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A 

PORTRAITURE 



OF 



METHODISM 



^iV IMPARTIAL VIEW 



RISE, PROGRESS, DOCTRINES, DISCIPLINE, AND MANNERS 



or THE 



WESLEYAN METHODISTS. 



SERIES OF LETTERS, ADDRESSED TO A LADY. 



By JOSEPH NIGHTINGALE. 



Sit mihi fas audita loqui— — 

"Virgil. 



LONDON: 

Printed by C. Stower, 32, Paternoster Row, 
FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, AND ORME, PATER-NOSTER ROW, 

1807. 






afr 



PREFACE 



As far as concerns the manner in which 
the following work is executed, I must be 
allowed to deprecate the severity of criti- 
cism ; in what relates to the matter of it, 
I desire only that it should stand upon its 
own merits, as an impartial and fair ac- 
count of the people whose history and inter- 
nal economy I have attempted to develop. 
If I appear to have been too personal in my 
remarks on some living characters among 
the Methodists, it has arisen from my utter 
detestation of bigotry and intolerance ; and 
from a desire of distinguishing the precious 
from the vile. And it should be remember- 
ed, that those remarks refer to them in 

a2 



IV ' PREFACE. 

their public, and not in their private, capacity. 
In this latter point of view, no man is more 
ready than myself, to acknowledge their 
zeal, sincerity, and moral worth. 

From the candid and honest Methodist I 
can have nothing to dread : he will observe, 
that impartiality and truth are the leading 
features of the work : while the enthusiast 
and the bigot will condemn me for having 
disclosed the 

<e Secrets of the prison house. " 

From persons of this class, however, I 
expect, court, I desire no mercy. Let them 
ransack the stores of abuse— let them cast 
their jaundiced eyes over every page ; and 
let them see, or fancy they see, errors in 
every line, and mischief in every sheet ; as 
they are incapable of discerning excellences, 
should there happen to be any, so remarks 
on defects, from them, will not be noticed 
or regarded by the author. " I would ra- 
ther," to use the language of Dering, " bear 
the scourge of their tongues, than have 
the kisses of their lips : the latter would 
make me suspect myself ; the former would 
beget a hope of some merit in me." 



PREFACE. V 

To the Methodists in general, I may 
safely appeal for the faithfulness of the fol- 
lowing Portraiture. They will perceive that 
I have never blamed their community, either 
individually or collectively, without also 
awarding them their due degree of praise : 
so that, upon the whole, I have not a doubt, 
but an impression will be left on the mind 
of the candid and discerning reader, favour- 
able to the cause and interest of the Wes- 
leyan Christians. 

It has ever been my object to state, rather 
than to controvert or defend, the opinions* 
and practices of the Methodists ; and here- 
in, I conceive, in part, lies the merit of my 
book above others who have attempted the 
same subject. 

The Methodists have certainly met with 
unmerited abuse from various quarters, and 
on various occasions ; yet I have not thought 
it particularly necessary to notice those se- 
veral attacks, as they have already met with 
due censure from Mr. Benson and others. I 
may, nevertheless, be here permitted to re- 
mark on one or two instances of this 
nature. 

On the detraction and disapprobation 
of Methodists and Dissenters in general, 



VI PREFACE. 

given in the first volume of The Orthodox 
Churchman's Magazine, I shall say little, 
because, much to the credit of the for- 
mer editor of that mis-named Miscel- 
lany, he has ingenuously disavowed the 
party spirit with which it was conceived 
and conducted, and which "too fatally leads 
men to discredit and disgrace their opponents 
rather than give them a candid hearing." — 
He has frankly acknowledged that the gene- 
ral charges against Methodists and Dissenters 
originated in inexperience and a zeal with* 
out knowledge, which then received no 
check nor censure from older and wiser 
heads than his own, and whose age and ex- 
perience should have taught them better 
things — Vide The Monthly Repository 
of Theology and General Litera- 
ture, for February, 1806\ Injustice to the 
same author I must also observe, that this 
acknowledgment applies to another work : 
■" The Rise and Dissolution of Infidel Socie- 
ties in this Metropolis." In this copious dis- 
sertation, so far as the author's remarks are 
connected w^ith the progress of modern deism 
and the licentiousness of anti-Christian 
principles, they are excellent ; his informa- 
tion is curious and important ; but as the 



PREFACE. Vlt 

fifth chapter of that work was written as a 
Vindication of the Established Church of 
England, and with a particular view to de- 
grade the character of Methodists and Dis- 
senters in general, though it obtained the 
warm approbation of a third of the Re- 
viewers, the author, within a twelvemonth 
after its appearance, took every opportunity 
of avowing the change in his sentiments, in 
favour of toleration, and of expressing his 
disapprobation of a narrow, persecuting, 
party spirit. 

Such an acknowledgment, from a writer 
allowed to possess no mean talents, is ano- 
ther instance of the many who have pub- 
licly renounced the old persecuting spirit, 
and the temporal advantages attending it, 
in favour of true Christian charity, with uni- 
versal toleration and forbearance in matters 
of conscience. 

It is much to be lamented, that the An- 
nual Review, a work of such distinguished 
excellence, and conducted by persons of the 
first literary reputation, should have admitted 
so gross a dereliction of principle as ap- 
peared in a critique on Myles's History of 
the Methodists, in the second volume of 
that work-. And it is, perhaps, the mere 



Via PREFACE. 

to be regretted, the writer of that critique 
being pretty generally known, that abuse, 
so scurrilous, should have come from the 
pen of one capable of much better things, 
and whose labours, in other walks of liter- 
ature, will continue to amuse and instruct 
while there is any taste left for works of 
genuine and intrinsic merit. It is somewhat 
remarkable, that more than twenty- four co- 
lumns, in royal octavo, should have been de- 
devoted to the Review of a work, which the 
critic himself declares " is no subject for cri- 
ticism !" and it is equally strange, that nearly 
one half of those columns should be filled, not 
in reviewing Mr. Myles's book, but in abus- 
ing the whole body of Methodists in the 
most shameful and unjust manner imagin- 
able ! In like manner has Mr. Benson acted 
in his reply to this Reviewer : Not contented 
with answering the Critic's objections, he 
has taken that opportunity of shewing his 
implacable zeal and anger towards the Uni- 
tarians ! It is difficult to discern any con- 
nexion between the Unitarians and the An- 
nual Review ; but the fact is, Mr. Benson, 
being exceedingly mad against this class of 
Christians, is glad of every opportunity of 



PREFACE. IX 

abusing them. To do this, he is certainly 
instant in season and out of season ! 

Mr. Benson has manifested a similar spirit 
and conduct with regard to Mr. Evans, au- 
thor of the Sketch of Religious Denomina- 
tions, which was attacked in a most rude 
and scurrilous manner in the Methodist Ma- 
gazine for 1805. The paper to which I 
here allude was written by a certain banker 
of Hull, and is signed Inspector. Why 
Inspector should have taken a dislike to a 
work which has been so very favourably 
received by the public (nearly forty thousand 
copies having already issued from the press) 
it is not easy to conceive. He seems indeed 
to have taken great offence at the author for 
having prudently avoided extolling his own 
party, the General Baptists, at the expense 
of all others ; and this is the most probable 
motive for his conduct ; a motive truly wor- 
thy of the head and heart of him who could 
write such an attack on the Sketch. 

The chief blame which attaches to Mr. 
Benson, in this business, as editor, arises 
from the mutilated and garbled copy he 
has given of " Sir. Evans's Defence of 
himself;" which appeared in the same ma- 
gazine, some time after the appearance of 



'% Preface- 

Inspector's attack. Nay, Mr. Bensoti die! 
not only insert the defence in a partial man- 
ner, but he even attempted to answer it, 
paragraph by paragraph ; thereby endeavour- 
ing to prejudice the mind of the unsuspect- 
ing reader still more against the Author of 
the Sketch. To fill up the measure of in- 
sult, he then triumphantly exclaims, " Mr. 
Evans has now had full justice done him !" 
The man who could thus act, is certainly 
unworthy of having the management of any 
publication whatsoever. The Sketch, a tenth 
edition of which has just made its appear- 
ance, has been re-printed in America, and 
has also been translated into several of the 
continental languages; and will, I doubt 
not, continue to be read when its few 
illiberal enemies are deservedly forgotten. 

In drawing the following Portraiture, I 
have had recourse to every publication I am 
acquainted with, which could enable me to 
do it fully and faithfully. It is not, how- 
ever, necessary that I should enter into a de- 
tail of those authorities : they are chiefly to be 
found in the various biographical and histo- 
rical works w r hich thfow any light on the 
subject of Methodism,, 



PREFACE. XI 

In addition to those several authorities, I 
may be allowed to mention my own per- 
sonal knowledge of the Methodists : more 
particularly in what relates to the internal 
economy of this sect, and to the several 
peculiar customs and modes of expression 
and action which they have adopted. From 
this source I have been able to produce 
much original and interesting information : 
original, at least, to the public at large ; 
and even, I may add, to numbers of the 
Methodists themselves. 

I have throughout aimed at strict impar- 
tiality ; and if at any time I have failed of 
my object, it has been through mistake and 
inadvertence, and not from any wish to ex- 
hibit the Methodists either in a favourable 
or an unfavourable point of view ; but to 
draw a faithful and accurate Portraiture of 
the origin, progress, discipline, and manners 
of the Wesleyan Methodists.. 

FL^t-strcet, June 18, 1807. 



CONTENTS 



Page 
PREFACE. iff 

LETTER I. 
Introductory. 1 

LETTER II. 

Origin of the Term Methodist, and of its Application to the 
Wesleyans. 5 

LETTER III. 

" A Brand plucked from the burning." 12 

LETTER IV. 
< l The Father of Methodism," a Poet. 19 

LETTER V. 
Origin of Methodism at Oxford. 28 

LETTER VI. 
Decline of Methodism at Oxford. 33 

LETTER VII. 
Methodism visits America. 44 

LETTER VIII. 
Progress of Methodism at Georgia. 53 



XIV CONTENTS. 

LETTER IX. Page 

Bickerings, Persecutions, and Decline of Methodism 
at Georgia. 64 

LETTER X. 
Progress of Methodism^ and Conversion of the Wesleys. 74 
LETTER XL 

Third Period of Methodism — Orders of a Religious Society — • 
Mr. Wesley doubts of his Conversion — Visits Germany. 83 

LETTER XII. 

Increase of Methodism — Specimens. 93 

LETTER XIIL 

si A Shaking among the dry Bones" — Dialogue between Mr. 
Wesley and the Bishop of Bristol. 1G| 

LETTER XIV, 

Fightings without, and Fears within. 115 

LETTER XV. 

Methodism extends itself over various Parts of the Kingdom. 

LETTER XVI. 

Formation of the Societies — General Rules — Directions given 
to the Bands -Schism. 134 

LETTER XVII. 

Persecutions — Miraculous Escapes — Reflections. }49. 

LETTER XVIII. 

Conference — Prayer- Meetings — Specimens. l63 

LETTER XIX, 

Of Class-Meetings — Specimens. 177 

LETTER XX. 

Of Band- Meetings — Strictures by the Annual Reviewers — De- 
fended by the Methodists. IfiO 



CONTENTS. XV 

LETTER XXI. 

Page 

Of Agapag, or Love-Feasts — Specimens, 201 

LETTER XXII. 
Of Watch-Nights— Wrestling Jacob. o 14 

LETTER XXIIL 

Of the Yearly Covenant. 22$ 

LETTER XXIV. 
Of the Society-Meetings. 236 

LETTER XXV. 
Of the Qarterly Visitation of the Classes. 244 

LETTER XXVI. 

Of Preaching, &c. with Specimens. 251 

LETTER XXVII. 

Of Prayer^ Leaders, Class-Leaders, and Local-Preachers 2op 

LETTER XXVIII. 

jOf Travelling Preachers — Specimens — Trustees — Stewards 2/S 

LETTER XXIX. 

Of Meetings for Business — Leaders'-Mectings — Quarterly- 
Meetings — District-Meetings — Conference. o02 

LETTER XXX. 

Progress of Methodism on the Field of Battle — John Nelson — 
Preachers' Talents — The Christian Library — Great Labours 
—Liberality— Illiberal ity. 321 

LETTER XXXI. 

^Persecutions — Inconvenience of the first Preachers — Marriage 
of Mr. C. Wesley — A Parody — Riots — Instability of some 
of the Preachers. 331 

LETTER XXXII. 

Mr. Whitefield — Hypocrisy of Unbelievers — Dreadful Alarms 
— James Wheatley, 344 



XVI CONTENTS. 

LETTER XXXIII. 

Prejudices against Mr. Charles Wesley— Desists from Travel- 
ling — His Sickness and Death — His Character— Specimens 
of his Poetry. p a ^ e 357 

LETTER XXXIV. 

Marriage of Mr. Wesley — Success of Methodism in Scotland- 
Causes of its Failure there — Testimony in favour of the 
established Clergy of these Kingdoms. 369 

LETTER XXXV. 

Mr. Fletcher — Anecdote — A Revival — Perfection — Mr. Max- 
field — George BelJ — Prophesying — Pandora's Box. 380 

LETTER XXXVI. 

A Revival at Kingswood — Erasmus — Methodistical Ordina- 
tion. 393 
LETTER XXXVII. 

Methodistical Ordination, concluded. 400 

LETTER XXXVIII. 
Tolerant Sj irit of Methodism mistated — Conventicle Act — 
Tolerant Spirit of the Church. -409 

LETTER XXXIX. 

Mr. Wesley's Reflections on himself — The last Words and Sen- 
timents of dying Men no Test of Truth — Sickness and Death 
of Mr. Wesley — Remarks on Mr. Wesley's general Cha- 
racter. 419 
LETTER XL. 
Of the Methodist Doctrines. 427 
LETTER XLL 

Of Bibliomancy — Scripture-Cards W T omen-Preaching • 

Street. and Field Singing. 44 $ 

LETTER XLIL 
Controversies with the Caivinists, &c. — Circular Letter. 459 

LETTER XLIIL 

Finances — Population. 466 

LETTER XLIV. 

Divisions — Conclusion. 472 



PORTRAITURE 



OF 



METHODISM, &c 



LETTER L 



Introductory. 



The last time I had the pleasure of dining at 

— , you requested me to recommend to 

you some Book containing an impartial account 
of the Wesleyan Methodists. But, you 
may possibly remember, I then remarked, that 
ignorance, prejudice, and selfish prepossession, 
had hitherto united their baneful influences to 
withhold from the public eye the information 
you desired. Solicitous, however, of gratifying 
the curiosity of a lady of Mrs. - — —s charac- 
ter and literary celebrity, I gladly take upon 
myself the task of collecting into one view some 
information concerning the origin, progress, 

B 



* INTRODUCTORY. 

doctrines, church-discipline, and singular cus- 
toms, of the Wesleyan Methodists ; and I deem 
myself somewhat fitted for this task, because 
they are a people with whom I have, during a 
period of nine or ten years, been intimately con- 
nected, and with whose doctrines and peculiari- 
ties my situation, as minister among them, 
must have necessarily rendered me tolerably fa- 
miliar. 

This information, Madam, it is my intention 
to communicate to you, from time to time, as 
the avocations of my profession may permit me ; 
or as your more important pursuits and engage- 
ments may allow you time and inclination to 
peruse my several epistles. 

In the performance of this engagement I an- 
ticipate much pleasure, and some pain. It will 
be gratifying to me to be able to satisfy your 
laudable curiosity on the subject of Methodism, 
as well as pleasing to observe the influence of re- 
ligious principle on a body of Christians who, 
in the course of less than eighty years, have 
sprung from a number not exceeding half a 
dozen persons, to the astonishing amount of near- 
ly two hundred and seventy thousand. This 
pleasure, however, must experience some abate- 
ment, from the consideration of the necessity 
I shall be laid under, either of repressing some 
necessary and important facts, or of relating se- 
veral instances of the evil nature and contami- 



INTRODUCTORY. 3 

nating influence of bigotry, enthusiasm, and su- 
perstition. 

Confident that my fidelity in the relation of 
facts will receive due credit, and that all pos- 
sible candour will be exercised in the perusal of 
that relation, I shall proceed with my narrative, 
more anxious to observe accuracy and faithful- 
ness in its execution, than to decorate the por- 
trait with the less necessary ornaments of ele- 
gance of style and purity of diction. It will, 
however grieve me, should I inadvertently fall 
into any glaring mistake even of this latter 
kind, which might offend the just taste and de- 
licate ear of my correspondent. 

It will, Madam, be my chief ambition to 
please and inform by stating facts and circum- 
stances exactly as they are, unbiassed by any 
difference of sentiment and opinion, or by the 
blinding influence of interested predilection. 
Were this not my determination, I might save 
both you, Madam, and myself the trouble of 
this correspondence, by recommending to your 
perusal the work of Bishop Lavington, on the 
Enthusiasm of Methodists and Catholics ; the 
late publication of the rector of Killesandra, 
entitled, " Methodism Inspected ;'■ the " Me- 
thodism Unmasked," of Mr. Owen; or, the 
" Defences/' of Wesley, Fletcher, Benson, and 
others, who have treated the subject of Me- 

b 2 



4 INTRODUCTORY. 

thodism in a partial, or in an uncharitable man- 
ner. 

The Portraiture of Methodism, as drawn by 
the dexterous hands of these gentlemen, is too 
often caricatured and distorted on the one 
hand, or over-coloured and enlarged on the 
other. Extremes having been observed on both 
sides, it will be no very difficult task to draw 
the line of truth between them ; and thus to de- 
lineate such a picture of modern Methodism as 
shall, I flatter myself, gratify you, Madam, and, 
by so doing, confer an honour on, 

DEAR MADAM, 

Your most obedient, 
Humble servant, 

J. NIGHTINGALE, 



LETTER 11 



Origin of the Term Methodist, and of its 
application to the Wesleyans, 



DEAR MADAM, 

Themison, the John Wesley of an ancient sect 
of physicians, flourished about thirty or forty 
years before the Christian era. The college of 
physicians, of which Themison was the founder, 
affected a more easy method of teaching and 
practising the art of physic than was at that 
time observed in Rome, where the college was 
founded ; and their peculiarities, like those of 
the Wesleyan Christians, procured them the 
appellation of Methodists. This sect flourished 
about three hundred years, and had some of the 
greatest physicians of the age among its mem- 
bers. But of its founder, Juvenal seems to have 
entertained no very flattering idea, when he ob- 
serves, concerning the bodily infirmities of an 
old man, that it were as difficult to enumerate 



ORrGIN OF THE 



the patients killed by Themison in one autumn, 
as to tell the names of all the diseases which, 
like a troop, rush upon the aged and infirm on 
all sides — 



Circumsilit agmine facto 



Morborum ornne genus, quorum si nornina quseras 

Promptius expediam 

Quot Themison aegros autumno occiderit uno. 



It is doubtful, however, whether Juvenal here 
alludes to the Methodist, Themison, or to some 
other physician of the same name ; and cer- 
tainty, Madam, there is a most material differ- 
ence in the character of Themison, as spoken 
of by this fiery satirist, and the venerable 
founder of that sect of Christians concern-* 
ing which I am about to give you some infor- 
mation. The practice of the ancient physician 
seems to have been very extensive, and so was 
that of the modern divine ; but while the one 
was engaged in killing or curing the bodies of 
his patients, the other was most successfully 
exercised in saving the souls, and reforming the 
morals, of many of those whose cases in other 
hands would have been thought desperate; and 
who indeed had been discharged as incurable 
by practitioners of less zeal and more limited 
experience. 

Hannah Adams, in her " View of all Reli- 
gions," mentions a species of polemic doctors 



TERM METHODIST. 7 

in the Roman Catholic church, who were term- 
ed Methodists. 

It has been somewhat unusual, in the forma- 
tion of the numerous sects into which the Chris- 
tian world is divided* for the members of any de- 
nomination of Christians voluntarily to adopt the 
appellations which their enemies have given them, 
as their regular and proper terms of distinction 
from the rest of their Christian brethren. My 
very worthy and much respected friend, the 
well-known author of a " Sketch of the Deno- 
minations of the Christian world," has furnished 
his readers with a useful table, exhibiting at 
one view the names, and origin of the names, by 
which the chief sects in the Christian world are 
distinguished ; and from this table you will ob- 
serve, that these distinctive appellations are al- 
most all of them derived either from some opi- 
nions respecting the person of Christ ; the means 
and extent of the divine favour; from some pe- 
culiarities respecting church-government, and 
the administration of ceremonies ; or from the 
names of their respective founders : but not one, 
I believe, of this list, amounting to upwards of 
thirty, has unequivocally taken to itself a name 
originally applied to it as a term of ridicule and 
reproach, excepting the Methodists. For al- 
though Mr. Wesley often distinguisned the so- 
ciety of which he was head, by a mode of ex- 
pression somewhat similar to that used by the 



8 ORIGIN OF THE 

Society of Friends, and denominated his follow- 
ers, " The People called Methodists," yet in 
several publications, he gravely sanctions the 
term and its application ; and his people have 
most unreservedly adopted it, by making it the 
title of a Magazine published by themselves, 
which the author of a critique on Myles's His- 
tory of the Methodists, in the second volume of 
the Annual Review, calls their Official Ga- 
zette. 

If we remark the conduct of Mr. Wesley, both 
in his public capacity, as head and founder of a 
sect, and in his more private concerns, as a 
Christian and a scholar, we shall observe a me- 
thodical strictness in all his undertakings, which 
will cause the term Methodist, when applied to 
himself, to possess a great degree of pro- 
priety. 

Though an itinerant, a wanderer,, through 
the whole of his life he observed the greatest 
regularity in the times and places of his mi- 
nisterial engagements ; and when his socie- 
ties were in some degree organized, he might, 
making proper allowances for the vicissitudes of 
fortune, and the natural uncertainty of all hu- 
man affairs and undertakings, have written a 
large portion of his each day's journal, a day, or 
even a week, prior to his engagements, with 
almost as much accuracy as when those en- 
gagements had been fulfilled :■ so much was he 



TERM METHODIST. S> 

addicted to those habits which are the great 
sources of success in all momentous concerns — 
punctuality and regularity. 

In the early part of Mr. Wesley's life, a dis- 
position to methodical exactness in all his un- 
dertakings displayed itself in a manner border- 
ing upon an unnecessary and superstitious for- 
mality: it was, however, doubtless, of won- 
derful assistance in his various pursuits as a 
student and a man of letters. It is pleasing, 
Madam, to observe this man of regularity, this 
finished Methodist, so early in life as his twenty- 
fourth year, entering with determined serious- 
ness on a plan, which he had before fixed, of 
appropriating certain hours in the mornings and 
afternoons to certain branches of study ; and it 
has been observed, that Mr. Wesley never suf- 
fered himself to depart from the rules he had 
once laid down. His hours of study on Mon- 
days and Tuesdays were devoted to the Greek 
and Latin classics, historians, and poets ; Wed- 
nesdays, to logic and ethics ; Thursdays, to 
Hebrew and Arabic: on Fridays, Mr. Wesley 
embarked on the unfathomable ocean of meta- 
physics, or recreated himself in the amusing- 
paths of natural philosophy. His Saturdays were 
very properly given to oratory, and the delight- 
ful exercises of poetry and poetical composition; 
and his Sundays were still more appropriately 
devoted to the study and practice of divinity. 



10 ORIGIN OF THE 

Certain intermediate hours, in each day, were 
given to the study of the French language. 

Mr. Wesley's mode of reading was, first to 
read an author regularly through, and in his se- 
cond reading to transcribe favourite passages 
into his collections. 

So strictly did Mr. Wesley adhere to order, 
" Heaven's first law," that, I believe, all his dis- 
courses, and even many of his familiar letters, 
were regularly divided into an almost puritani- 
cal exactness of — firstly, secondly, thirdly, 
fourthly, &c. Most aptly, therefore, was Mr, 
Wesley called a Methodist, 

At what precise period this term was first ap- 
plied to the sect of Christians now so called, is 
not quite certain. It appears that the term was 
first applied to Mr. Charles Wesley, one of Mr. 
John Wesley's brothers, and to a few others, at 
Oxford,, some time before November, in the 
year 1729, while Mr. John Wesley was at Ep- 
worth, the place of his birth, and where his fa- 
ther was at that time rector. Mr. Wesley's own 
account of the matter is as follows : — " The ex- 
act regularity of their lives,, as well as studies, 
occasioned a young man of Christ Church to 
say, ' Here is a new sect of Methodists sprung 
up,' alluding to some ancient physicians who 
were so called. The name was quaint, so it 
took immediately, and the Methodists were 
known all over the University." 



TERM METHODIST. 11 

This, however, is not the only term by which 
the disciples of Mr. John Wesley were distin- 
guished : — Sacramentarians ; The Godly Club; 
The Holy Club ; Supererogation-men ; and 
Swaddlers — are all appellations which satire or 
ridicule has at times used to apply to " the 
people in connection with the Rev. John Wes- 
ley." The term Swaddlers was first given to 
these people in Ireland, where one of the early 
lay-preachers in that country took for a text that 
passage from Ezekiel, where the prophet says, 
" Thou wert not swaddled at all." 

Thus much, Madam, for the origin and ap- 
plication of a term which is now often used to 
distinguish all who make pretensions to superior 
sanctity of mind and manners, and to a more 
than ordinary spiritual intercourse with the Al- 
mighty. Indeed this term is now very com- 
monly given to all who presume, on the grounds 
of morality, to violate the boundaries of any 
branch of modern etiquette. It is become the 
invidious catch-word of the careless and the in- 
different — the countersign of the unbelieving 
sophist, as well as the pride and glory of the 
hypocrite, the enthusiast, and the bigot. 

I am, &c. 



n 



LETTER III. 



il A Brand plucked from the burning. 



DEAR MADAM, 

Mr. John Wesley, " the father of the Armi- 
nian Methodists/' was born at Epworth, in Lin- 
colnshire, in the year 1703. He was the son of 
Samuel and Susannah Wesley, who, as appears 
from Dr. Whitehead's account of them, were 
persons of much respectability, and were re- 
markably serious and devout. 

When Mr. John Wesley was about six years 
of age, he was almost miraculously saved from 
being destroyed by fire, on which account he 
used to consider himself in another besides a 
spiritual sense, " a brand plucked from the 
burning." As I wish, Madam, to have you in- 
terested in whatever concerns the hero of my 
history (for the history of all sects must be 
connected with the biography of their founders), 



A BRAND PLUCKED, &C. 13 

I will give you a circumstantial account of this 
calamity which had so nearly proved fatal to 
the whole of Mr. Samuel Wesley's family. I 
cannot do this better than by transcribing Mrs. 
Wesley's letter to the Rev. Mr. Hoole, in which 
she gives a full account of the whole transac- 
tion. This letter is dated August 24, 1709. 

"Rev. Sir, 

" My master is much concerned that he was 
so unhappy as to miss of seeing you at Epworth ; 
and he is not a little troubled that the great 
hurry of business about building his house will 
not afford him leisure to write. He has there- 
fore ordered me to satisfy your desire as well as 
I can, which I shall do by a simple relation of 
matters of fact, though I cannot at this distance 
of time recollect every calamitous circumstance 
that attended our strange reverse of fortune. 

" On Wednesday- night, February the 9th, 
between the hours of eleven and twelve, our 
house took fire, by what accident God only 
knows. It was discovered by some sparks fall- 
ing from the roof upon a bed where one of the 
children lay, and burnt her feet. She immedi- 
ately ran to our chamber and called us ; but 1 
believe no one heard her, for Mr. Wesley w T as 
alarmed by a cry of fire in the street, upon 
which he rose, little imagining that his own 
house was on fire ; but on opening his door, he 



14 A BRAND PLUCKED 

found it was full of smoke, and that the roof 
was already burnt through. He immediately 
came to my room (as I was very ill he lay in a 
separate room from me), and bid me and my 
two eldest daughters rise quickly, and shift for 
our lives, the house being all on fire. Then he 
ran and burst open the nursery door, and called 
to the maid to bring out the children. The 
two little ones lay in the bed with her ; the three 
others in another bed. She snatched up the 
youngest, and bid the rest follow, which they 
did, except Jacky. When we were got into the 
hall, and saw ourselves surrounded with flames, 
and that the roof was upon the point of falling, 
we concluded ourselves inevitably lost, as Mr. 
Wesley in his fright had forgot the keys of the 
doors above stairs. But he ventured up stairs 
once more, and recovered them, a minute before 
the staircase took fire. When we opened the 
street-door, the strong north-east wind drove 
the flames in with such violence, that none 
could stand against them. Mr. Wesley only 
had such presence of mind as to think of the 
garden-door, out of which he helped some of 
the children ; the rest got through the windows. 
I was not in a condition to climb up to the win- 
dows ; nor could I get to the garden-door. I 
endeavoured three times to force my passage 
through the street-door, but was as often beat 
back by the fury of the flames. In this distress 



FROM THE BURNING. 15 

I besought our blessed Saviour to preserve me, 
if it were his will, from that death, and then 
waded through the fire, naked as I was, which 
did me no further harm than a little scorching 
my hands and face. 

" While Mr. Wesley was carrying the children 
to the garden, he heard the child in the nursery 
cry out miserably for help, which extremely af- 
fected him ; but his affliction was much increas- 
ed, when he had several times attempted the 
stairs then on fire, and found they would not 
bear his weight. Finding it was impossible to 
get near him, he gave him up for lost, and kneel- 
ing down, he commended his soul to God, and 
left him, as he thought, perishing in the flames. 
But the boy seeing none come to his help, and 
being frightened, the chamber and bed being on 
fire, he climbed up to the casement, where he 
was soon perceived by the men in the yard, who 
immediately got up and pulled him out, just in 
the article of time that the roof fell in, and beat 
the chamber to the ground. Thus, by the in- 
finite mercy of Almighty God, our lives were all 
preserved by little less than a miracle ; for there 
passed but a few minutes between the first alarm 
of fire and the falling of the house." 

Mr. John Wesley's account of this calamitous 
affair does not exactly agree with that I have 
just given from his mother. Permit me, Madam, 

4 



16 A BRAND PLUCKED 

to transcribe his own account of what more 
immediately concerns himself in what then hap- 
pened. 

" I believe it was just at that time (when his 
father supposed he heard him cry) I awaked; 
for I did not cry, as they imagined, unless it 
was afterwards. I remember all the circum- 
stances as distinctly as though it was but yes- 
terday. Seeing the room was very light, I call- 
ed to the maid to take me up : but none an- 
swering, I put my head out of the curtains, and 
saw streaks of fire on the top of the room. I 
got up and ran to the door, but could get no 
further, all the floor beyond it being in a blaze. 
I then climbed upon a chest, which stood near 
the window : one in the yard saw me, and pro- 
posed running to fetch a ladder. Another an- 
swered, there will not be time ; but I have 
thought of another expedient. Here I will fix 
myself against the wall : lift a light man, and 
set him on my shoulders. They did so, and 
they took me out of the window. Just then the 
roof fell ; but it fell inward, or we had all been 
crushed at once. When they brought me into 
the house where my father was, he cried out, 
" Come, neighbours! let us kneel down! let 
us give thanks to God ! He has given me all 
my eight children : let the house go, I am rich 
enough 1" 



FROM THE BURNING. 17 

In the language and conduct of old Mr. Wes- 
ley, when he found all his children safe from 
the devouring element, you will doubtless re- 
cognise Dr. Primrose, the virtuous Vicar of 
Wakefield, who, under similar circumstances, is 
made to exclaim, holding up his rescued chil- 
dren — " Now let the flames burn on, and all 
my possessions perish. Here they are ; I have 
saved my treasures. Here, my dearest, here are 
our treasures, and we shall yet be happy !" 

In the subsequent part of Mr. Wesley's life he 
had several of these " hair-breadth escapes/' 
sometimes from one danger and sometimes from 
another; but chiefly, I believe, from the fury 
and bigotry of enraged and encouraged mobs. 
The Methodists love to dwell on these miracu- 
lous interpositions of divine Providence, as they 
suppose them to have been. Every circum- 
stance is generally related with the most scru- 
pulous exactness ; and the narrative is height- 
ened with all the colouring which the facts will 
possibly bear, that the picture may possess as 
large a portion of the marvellous, as the truth, 
sometimes, especially in verbal representations, 
aided by a slight tincture of hyperbole, will al- 
low. 

There is a strong propensity in the human mind 
to excite wonder and astonishment, when we are 
relating what concerns ourselves and connec- 
tions ; and the Methodists have come in for 

c 



18 A BRAND PLUCKED, &C. 

their full share of this disposition. Mr. Wesley's 
conclusion of the above account partakes not 
a little of this spirit : he evidently wishes to 
make every circumstance appear as astonishing 
as possible. 

" The next day," continues Mr. Wesley, u as 
he, (his father) was walking in the garden, 
surveying the ruins of the house, he picked up 
part of a leaf of his Polyglot Bible, on which 
just those words were legible — Vadt ; vende omnia 
qua? habes, et attolle crucem, et sequere me — Go ; 
sell all that thou hast, and take up thy cross and 
follow me." 

I am, &c. 



19 



LETTER IV. 



" The Father of Methodism," a Poet. 



The seeds of Methodism (if by this term I may 
here be permitted to mean a more than common 
degree of piety) were early sown in the mind of 
John Wesley. He received the first rudiments 
of his education from his mother, who, for de- 
votion, appears to have been another Mrs. Rowe. 
She was a most worthy woman, and an excel- 
lently good mother towards all her children; 
but her son John seems to have shared her most 
particular attention. "I do intend," says she, 
in one of her evening meditations, ic to be more 
particularly careful of the soul of this child, that 
thou hast so mercifully provided for, than ever 
I have been ; that I may instil into his mind the 
principles of true religion and virtue, Lord, give 
me grace to do it sincerely and prudently, and 

c 2 



£0 MR. WESLEY, A POET. 

bless my attempts with good success." How far 
this good woman succeeded in her pious endea- 
vours, you wall be able to judge, when you are 
informed that John Wesley was admitted as a 
communicant at the Lord's table so early as his 
eighth year ; and it is somewhere, asserted that 
he used to say, he had not sinned away the grace 
of baptism until, I believe, his fifteenth or six- 
teenth year ! 

In his tenth year, Mr. Wesley was placed at 
the Charter-house; and in his sixteenth he was 
elected to Christ Church, Oxford, where he 
made such progress in his learning, that in his 
twentieth year, Mr. Baddock writes of him, that 
" Reappeared the very sensible and acute col- 
legian — a young fellow of the finest classical 
taste, and of the most liberal and manly senti- 
ments." 

You, Madam, will be pleased to find such a 
man as John Wesley a poet of no mean rank, 
although he was not perhaps one of the very first 
order. I will here present you with a specimen 
of his talents as a poetical translator from 
the Latin, written, I believe, in his twenty- 
first year. " Since you have a mind," says he, 
in a letter to his brother Samuel, " to see some 
of my verses, I have sent you some, which em- 
ployed me above an hour yesterday in the af- 
ternoon. There is one. and I am afraid but 



MR. WESLEY, A POET. 21 

one, good thing in them, that is= — they are 
short. 



FROM THE LATIN. 

" As o'er fair Cloe's rosy cheek, 
Careless a little vagrant pasVd, 

With artful hand around his neck 
A slender chain the virgin cast. 

As Jimo near her throne above, 
Her spangled bird delights to see $ 

As Venus has her favourite dove, 
Clot shall have her favourite flea. 

Pleas'd at his chains, with nimble steps 
He o'er her snowy bosom stray'd ; 

Now on her panting breast he leaps, 
Now hides between his little head. 

Leaving at length his old abode, 
He found, by thirst or fortune led, 

Her swelling lips, that brighter glow'd 
Than roses in their native bed. 

Cloe, your artful bands undo, 

Nor for your captive's safety fear ; 

No artful bands are needful now 
To keep the willing vagrant here. 

Whilst on that heaven 'tis given to stay, 
(Who would not wish to be so blest !) 

No force can draw him once away, 

Till death shall seize his destin'd breast." 



22 MR. WESLEY, A POET. 

These verses, Madam, you will think not quite 
so good as those written by Burns on a kindred 
insect, both of which, I fear, are rather of too 
mean and indelicate a species to be the subject 
of poetic composition. I have transcribed the 
poem, partly to shew you that Mr. Wesley was 
not quite that dark, saturnine creature, which 
Archbishop Herring took him to have been. 
But it must be granted, that Mr. Wesley was 
not then so methodistical as he was at a 
subsequent period of his life. If he had, he 
certainly would have thought it a sin to have 
exercised his talents in writing a poem on a 
favourite flea — Cloe's rosy cheek — panting breast 
— and swelling lips, which he then called a hea- 
ven, for the blessings of which he himself seems 
so ardently to wish. He was, however, at all 
times witty — sometimes satirical. 

Mr. Wesley began to prepare his mind for 
Methodism and ordination, by reading and 
studying— -Thomas a Kern pis, and Dr. Taylor on 
Holy Living and Dying. His natural good 
sense and constitutional vivacity suggested some 
objections to the extraordinary strictness of 
these devotees, which notwithstanding laid the 
foundation of that seriousness — or Methodism — 
for which he afterwards became so conspicuous. 
The damnatory clauses of the Athanasian creed 
also very justly furnished his mind with some 
scruples, which his father, by what species of 



MR. WESLEY. A POET. 23 

logic I cannot tell, removed, and Mr. Wesley, 
accordingly, was ordained deacon, on Sunday 
the 19th September, 1725, by Dr. Potter, the 
author of the Grecian Antiquities, and at that 
time Bishop of Oxford. 

Mr. Wesley now began to be more and more 
serious — more and more devout. He com- 
menced an inquiry into the truth and evidences 
of that religion of which he was now about to 
become a public teacher ; but he did not neg- 
lect the necessary study of the classics, and 
hooks of science in general. Indeed such was 
his diligence and success as a scholar, that the 
following year he was elected Fellow of Lincoln 
College, and Greek Lecturer and Moderator of 
the Classes. 

You will excuse me, Madam, if I give you 
one more specimen of Mr. Wesley's poetical 
talents, written about this time. It is his pa- 
raphrase on the first eighteen verses of the hun- 
dred and fourth psalm, and will give you a more 
pleasing idea of my hero, as a poet, than the 
verses I have just transcribed. 



24 MR. WESLEY. A POET 



" V. 1 . Upborne aloft on vent'rous wing, v 

While, spurning earthly themes, I soar, 

Through paths untried before, 
What God, what seraph shall I sing ? 
Whom but thee should I proclaim, 
Author of this wond'rous frame * 

Eternal, uncreated Lord, 
Enshrin'd in glory's radiant blaze ! 

At whose prolific voice, whose potent word, 
Commanded, nothing swift retir'd, and worlds began their 



ft. Thou, brooding o'er the realms of night, 

Th' unbottom'd infinite abyss, 

Bad'st the deep her rage surcease, 
And said'st — Let there be light ! 

^Ethereal light thy call obey'd, 

Glad she left her native shade, 
Through the wide void her living waters past; 

Darkness turn'd his murmuring head, 

Resign'd the reins, and trembling fled ; 
The crystal waves roll'd on, and nll'd the ambient waste. 

2. In light, effulgent robe, array'd 

Thou left'st the beauteous realms of day ; 
The golden towers inclin'd their head, 
As their sovereign took his way. 
3, 4. The all-encircling bounds (a shining train, 
Minist'ring flames around him flew) 
Through the vast profound he drew, 

When, lo ! sequacious to his fruitful hand, 
Heav'n o'er th' uncolour'd void her azure curtain threw. 






MR. WESLEY, A POET. 25 

• Lo ! marching o'er the empty space, 
The fluid stores in order rise, 
"With adamantine chains of liquid glass, 
To bind the new-born fabric of the skies. 
3. Downward th' Almighty Builder rode, 
Old Chaos groan'd beneath the God, 
Sable clouds his pompons car, 
Harnest winds before him ran, 
Proud to wear their Maker's chain, 
And told, with hoarse-resounding voice, his coming from afar. 

5. Embryon earth the signal knew, 

And rear'd from night's dark womb her infant head, 

6. Though yet prevailing waves her hills overspread, 

And stain'd their sickly face with pallid hue. 

7. But when loud thunders the pursuit began, 

Back the affrighted spoilers ran ; 

8. In vain aspiring hills opposed their race, 

O'er hills and vales, with equal haste, 
The flying squadrons past, 
Till safe within the walls of their appointed place : 

9. There firmly fix'd, their sure enclosures stand, 
Unconquerable bounds of ever-durjng sand ! 

10. He spake ! from the tall mountain's wounded side 
Fresh springs roll'd down their silver tide : 

O'er the glad vales the shining wanderers stray, 
Soft murmuring as they flow, 

11. While in their cooling wave inclining low, 

The untaught natives of the field their parching thirst 
allay. 

12. High seated on the dancing sprays, 
Chequering with varied light their parent streams, 

The feather'd quires attune their artless lays, 
Safe from the dreaded heat of solar beams. 



26 MR. WESLEY, A POET. 

13. Genial showers at his command, 
Pour plenty o'er the barren land : 
Labouring with parent throes, 

14. See ! the teeming hills disclose 
A new birth : see cheerful green, 
Transitory, pleasing scene, 

O'er the smiling landscape glow, 
And gladden all the vale below. 

15. Along the mountain's craggy brow. 
Amiably dreadful now ! 

See the clasping vine dispread 
Her gently-rising verdant head : 
See the purple grape appear, 
Kind relief of human care ! 

16. Instinct with circling life, thy skill 

Uprear'd the olive's loaded bough ; 
What time on Lebanon'?, proud hill 

Slow rose the stately cedar's brow. 
Nor less rejoice the lowly plains, 

Of useful corn the fertile bed, 
Than when the lordly cedar reigns, 

A beauteous but a barren shade. 

17. While in his arms the painted train, 

Warbling to the vocal grove, 
Sweetly tell their pleasing pain, 
Willing slaves to genial love. 

18. While the wild-goats, an active throng, 

From rock to rock light-bounding fly 
Jehovah's praise in solemn song, 
Shall echo through the vaulted sky.** 



27 



Had these lines not been so good, some apo- 
logy would have been necessary for my having 
transcribed them into this letter, on account of 
their number and extent. I will, therefore, 
proceed, in my next, to acquaint you with the 
progress of Methodism in the mind of Mr. 
Wesley, and of its origin among the students at 
Oxford. 



I am, &c. 



28 



LETTER V. 



Origin of Methodism at Oxford. 



In my last I remarked to you Mr. Wesley's in- 
crease of piety on his entering into holy orders. 
This spirit of religion advanced with his in- 
crease of learning, and with his promotion at 
the university ; which, compared with the pro- 
gress of the generality of collegians, was, I be- 
lieve, rather in a retrograde motion. But John 
Wesley was destined for greater things ; he was 
to perform on a more extensive theatre than any 
of his fellow-collegians ; and it was perfectly 
natural he should make advances suitable to his 
high and important destination : high and im- 
portant, as being supreme head, and sole direc- 
tor, of a body of his fellow-countrymen, whose 
union and influence affect the interests, if not 
threaten the existence, of the ecclesiastical estab- 
lishment in this island. 



ORIGIN OF METHODISM, &C. 29 

He took his degree of Master of Arts, on the 
14th of February, 1727. His time was now 
more at his own disposal, and he proceeded to 
follow his studies according to a method he had 
previously laid down, Of this plan I gave you 
the outlines in my second letter. In his literary 
pursuits he made rapid progress; but still more, 
as I have already remarked, did he improve in 
spiritual matters. 

Of Mr. Wesley's manner of recommending 
the spirit and practice of religion to others, the 
following anecdote will afford you a ycyj fa- 
vourable specimen. " About a year and a half 
ago," says he in a letter to his mother, " I stole 
out of company at eight in the evening, with a 
young gentleman with whom I was intimate. 
As we took a turn in an aisle of St. Mary's church, 
in expectation of a young lady's funeral, with 
whom wq were both acquainted, I asked him if 
he really thought himself my friend ? and if he 
did, why he would not do me all the good he 
could ? He began to protest — in which I cut 
him short, by desiring him to oblige me in an 
instance, which he could not deny to be in his 
own power — to let me have the pleasure of 
making him a whole Christian, to which I knew 
he was at least half persuaded already ; that he 
could not do me a greater kindness, as both of 
us would be fully convinced when we came to 
follow that young woman. 
4 



30 ORIGIN OF METHODISM 

" He turned exceedingly serious, and kept 
something of that disposition ever since." 

The seriousness which Mr. Wesley thus re- 
commended, and which he was so successful in 
producing in others, he himself possessed in a 
very eminent degree ; and as he was in all things 
an enterprising man, so did he still make ad- 
vancement in this spirit of piety and the prac- 
tice of religion. 

In the year 1728, he accepted one of his fa- 
ther's livings, for he had two, Epworth and 
Wroote ; and accordingly left Oxford to per- 
form the duties of a curacy at the latter place : 
but he was soon called back to Oxford, by a 
letter from Dr. Morely, his rector at the col- 
lege. 

It was during Mr. John Wesley's residence in 
Lincolnshire, that his brother Charles, with a 
Mr. Morgan, and one or two others, formed 
themselves into a little society, principally with 
a view of studying the Greek scriptures, and to 
encourage each other in a devout and holy life ; 
and when he left his curacy at Wroote, he be- 
came the head of this society. This was to- 
wards the close of the year 1729. 

Notwithstanding his sincere piety, a strong 
disposition to rule was always very predominant 
in his character. You doubtless have heard, 
Madam, the anecdote of his haranguing his fel- 
low school-boys, when very young, from the 



AT OXFORD. 31 

writing-desks and forms ; and that when he was 
reprimanded by his master for this forwardness, 
lie exclaimed — 

" Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven !" 

What truth there is in this anecdote, I will 
not take upon me to say; but it appears well 
enough to accord with the spirit and conduct 
which he manifested in the subsequent part of 
his life. 

That he was every way forward to govern, 
is certain ; and from this persuasion, the young 
gentlemen who met together at Oxford willingly 
put themselves under his spiritual superintend- 
ence. When the management of this little so- 
ciety first devolved upon Mr. Wesley, it con- 
sisted of the following persons — Mr. John Wes- 
ley, Fellow of Lincoln College ; Mr. Charles 
Wesley, Student of Christ Church ; Mr. Morgan, 
Commoner of Christ Church; and Mr. Kirkman, 
of Merton College. They were soon after 
joined by two or three of Mr. John Wesley's 
pupils; by Mr. Clayton, with two or three of his 
pupils ; Mr. Ingham, Mr. Broughton, and by 
one of Mr. C. Wesley's pupils. They were af- 
terwards joined by the celebrated author of 
Meditations among the Tombs, at that time one 
of Mr. J. Wesley's pupils ; and in the year 1735, 
by the still more celebrated Mr. George Whit- 



32 ORIGIN OF METHODISM, &C. 

field, then of Pembroke College, who after- 
wards became the great importer of the Gene- 
van doctrines of election and reprobation. 

" At that time, 5 ' says Mr. Myles, "they were 
fourteen or fifteen in number, all collegians, of 
one heart and of one mind, and must be con- 
sidered as the first Methodists/' Mr. Myles adds, 
" Our Lord's parables of the leaven hid in three 
measures of meal, and of the grain of mustard- 
seed, Matt. xiii. 31 — 34, are herein strikingly 
illustrated, for from these small beginnings what 
a great increase has been given!" This illus- 
tration will be still more striking, when we con- 
sider that this grain of mustard-seed, now grown 
into a large and spreading tree, has some of the 
wildest fowls of the air lodging in its luxuriant 
branches. 

The Methodists, when reflecting on the suc- 
cess of their exertions in making proselytes to 
their cause, often sing, in strains the most rap- 
turous and enchanting — 

" Saw ye not the cloud arist^ 

Little as a human hand ? 
See it spreads along the skies — 

Hangs o'er all the thirsty land - 
Lo! the promise of a shower 

Drops already from above, 
And the Lord will shortly pour 

All the spirit of his love J" 

I am, &c. 



LETTER VL 



Decline of Methodism at Oxford, 



DEAR MADAM, 

The pious and zealous collegians, whose names 
I mentioned in my last, under the special guid- 
ance of Mr. J. Wesley, and encouraged by the 
indefatigable zeal of Mr. Morgan, extended the 
sphere of their exertions beyond the pre- 
cincts of their college. They had already be- 
gan to communicate once a week ; and they 
now resolved to visit the unfortunate persons, 
confined for debt or otherwise, in the castle at 
Oxford. They got the Bishop's consent to estab- 
lish a monthly service at the castle, where 
they preached to, and conversed with, the 
prisoners. This small society, also, com^ 
menced a regular plan of visiting the sick, and 
of encouraging a few children to become good 
Christians, by distributing books, or some other 

d 



54 DECLINE OF METHODISM 

pleasing little matters among them. This line 
of conduct, pursued with the most unremitting 
attention, and accompanied, if we may credit 
their friendly historians, with a correspondent 
behaviour in their private and individual capa- 
city, one would have thought should have se- 
cured to them the countenance and support of 
the whole university. There is nothing unrea- 
sonable, I apprehend, in the supposition, that the 
Vice Chancellor and Heads of Houses should 
most gladly have encouraged and forwarded so 
good a work. The very reverse of this conduct 
being the fact, would lead one to suppose, that 
the practice of religion does not enter into the 
rules and regulations of our learned universities 
— that the theory of Christianity is all that a 
student ought to attend to while at college, re- 
serving the exercise of it to a period, when, 
settled in a quiet country curacy, undazzled by 
the glare of learning, the bustle of company, 
and the dreams of preferment, a man may find 
his account in rendering himself beloved by his 
parishioners, and revered by the good and wise, 
for a steady adherence to the eternal principles of 
truth and virtue, and the uniform practice of 
a religion, in the acquisition of which he has 
spent four, six, or eight years, at Oxford or 
Cambridge. 

There is, however, a religious duty, which, 
when carried to an improper extent, and per- 



AT OXFORD, 35 

formed in even the appearance of an unbecom- 
ing spirit, is sure to defeat its own salutary pur- 
poses — I mean that of reproof. It was one of 
the divine injunctions under the Mosaical law, 
and the duty, like all other moral obligations, 
retains its force under the more perfect dispen- 
sation of Christ, that a man should not hate his 
brother in his heart ; that he should in anywise 
rebuke his neighbour, and not suffer sin upon 
him. A mistake in the performance of this 
duty will generally produce effects which the 
zealot will denominate persecution, but which 
the person reproved will think only a just and 
proper retaliation for an unbecoming insult, 
though couched in the form of a friendly re- 
proof. It is very certain, that the persecutions 
which the Methodists and other zealots, have 
at times been made to suffer, have had their ori- 
gin in a dictatorial and insulting mode of re- 
proof. How far this was the case in the in- 
stance before me I will not pretend to deter- 
mine. It is, however, certain, that these young 
men had to encounter very considerable oppo- 
sition : arguments of various kinds were resorted 
to, if possible to convince them of the very great 
impropriety of pursuing any plans, or adopting 
any rules, contrary to the long and well-estab- 
lished usages of the university. It was not to 
be expected that the Vice Chancellor and Heads 
of Houses should enter into auy formal mode of 



36 DECLINE OF METHODISM 

argumentation with these young men ; neither 
could it be supposed that reasons, however 
strong, which had their foundation in the minds 
of half a dozen young collegians, should over- 
turn the practice of a whole university. Among 
the various methods adopted to bring these un- 
ruly religionists to order, that is, to persuade or 
force them to lay aside some or all of their aus- 
terities, that of shaking one of them by the 
collar was thought necessary. But, Madam, 
this was a species of logic by which John Wes- 
ley and his companions were not very likely to 
be convinced of their errors or their disobedi- 
ence. The cajoling plan had a far more power- 
ful effect ; and some of the younger brethren 
were soon persuaded, it was not absolutely 
necessary to salvation, that a man should fast 
two days out of every seven, or that a weekly 
participation of the body and blood of Christ is 
entirely needful to the eternal welfare of an im- 
mortal spirit. Be this, however, as it may, 
from more causes than one did the spirit and the 
practice of Methodism begin to decline very ra- 
pidly at the university. It is somewhat strange, 
but it is nevertheless true, Madam, that as a 
spirit of piety and devotion increased in the 
mind of Mr. J. Wesley, a proportionate decrease 
of zeal and number took place among the young 
M e th Q d is ts a t Ox for d . 



AT OXFORD. 37 

The abuse or the ridicule which tended to 
damp the zeal, and cool the religious fervour 
of the weak, the unstable, and the cowardly, 
had a very different effect on the mind and con- 
duct of Mr. Wesley. Before he had set out 
with a resolution to be more than usually de- 
vout, he had counted the cost. He had al- 
ready anticipated opposition. He knew, the ig- 
norant and the vicious, would all be against 
him; when therefore the storm arose, he was 
prepared for it. He puzzled his opponents with 
questions concerning the reasonableness of his 
conduct. He did more ; he confounded them 
by an uniform regularity of life, and an astonish- 
ing proficiency in his studies. He thus, as far 
as respected himself, put to flight the armies of 
the aliens. No one could withstand his argu- 
ments — no one ventured to impugn his moral 
character. He triumphed in the truth — he re- 
joiced in the testimony of a good conscience. 
The wise, the sober, and the good, encouraged 
him ; and he determined to be yet more zealous : 
or, as some of his followers express such a pious 
resolution, he said, I will yet be more. vile. But, 
though this resolution and his still increasing 
austerities might stand uninjured by the shafts 
of his enemies, yet did those shafts light with 
redoubled force on the heads of some of his 
weaker colleagues; and they shrunk from the 
performance of duties which exposed them to 



38 DECLINE OF METHODISM 

so much obloquy and reproach. Mr. Wesley la- 
mented their want of courage : but he soon dis- 
covered a far greater source of mourning than 
even the decay of his infant society of col* 
legians ; and this discovery, of whatever benefit 
it might be to himself, was, in its consequences, 
highly prejudicial to the Oxonian Methodists, 
He began to suspect, that he himself, as yet, 
did only possess the form of godliness, being al- 
most wholly destitute of the power of it ! 
The fact is as follows : — He had contracted 
an acquaintance with Mr. Law, author of " A 
Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life," who 
possessed much of the spirit which dwelt in 
the minds, and directed the devotions, of 
some of the French and German mystics ; 
and Mr. Wesley, admiring the piety, and long- 
ing for the devotional spirit, of this gentle- 
man, became, as Dr. Whitehead himself ac-? 
knowledges, too much captivated with the views 
which some of the mystic writers gave him of 
religion. In fact, he caught, at least to a cer- 
tain degree, the spirit of mysticism, and became 
restless and uneasy within himself. He read 
Law's Christian Perfection, studied the Theolo- 
gia Germanica, became desirous of being all eye, 
all ear, all soul; pure intellect; he hungered 
and thirsted after mysteries, and sighed to know 
what God's presence with his people meant. To 
obtain this information, he often rambled from 



AT OXFORD. 39 

the university, that he might have the advan- 
tage of spiritual advice and instruction from Mr. 
Law and others more advanced in the divine life 
than himself. He wrote to his mother, who 
possessed a still stronger sense of piety and in- 
ward devotion than even old Mr. Wesley himself. 
It must be acknowledged, that few men were 
ever more ready to receive information from 
others, than was Mr. John Wesley. It appears, 
however, that neither his mother, nor even 
Mr. Law, could satisfy the inquiring mind of 
this pious seeker. This caused him great 
pain. His philosophy and good sense on the 
one hand, and his Methodism on the other, 
seem to have given him much uneasiness, so that, 
on the 25th January, 1738, he complains, that 
— " For many years he had been tossed about 
with various winds of doctrine;" that his ac- 
quaintance with the mystic writers had led him 
into numerous mistakes ; that their " noble de- 
scriptions of union with God and internal re- 
ligion, had made even good works appear flat 
and insipid" to him ; " yea," adds he, " faith 
itself, and what not?" Whether this unsettled 
state of mind, or, which I think, Madam, is very 
likely, this spirit of mysticism, like that of the 
Athenians, loving to be hearing and communi- 
cating some new thing, had inspired its victim 
with a rambling disposition, I cannot say; but 
during this hurricane, or rather dead calm of 



40 DECLINE OF METHODISM 

the soul, Mr. Wesley often visited Epworth and 
London, and always contrived to go through as 
many towns as he could, often going much out 
of his way, in order to see some friend, or to 
converse with one after his own heart. He ob* 
serves, that about this time he had walked a 
thousand and fifty miles in the course of one 
year. The effects, however, of one of these 
journeys had nearly proved fatal to the young 
society at Oxford, and made him resolve to stay 
more at college in future. While the shepherd 
was absent the sheep began to stray. One of 
his pupils had learned to be afraid of singula- 
rity — another had read an excellent piece of Mr. 
Locke's, which had convinced him of the mis- 
chief of regarding authority : they both con^ 
eluded that it was not quite necessary to fast on 
Wednesdays. A third had been convinced of 
the uselessness of fasting, by a fever and Dr. 
Frewin. The seven and twenty communicants 
at St. Mary's, were shrunk to five ; and the last 
of Mr. Clayton's pupils who continued with 
them, now informed them, that he did not in- 
tend to meet with them any more. This, Ma- 
dam, you will readily conceive must have been 
a terrible blow to the young methodistical co- 
lony. None of these things, however, moved 
our hero, who soon reconciled himself to the 
loss— methodized his reasoning on the subject; 

and reduced his ill success to three causes : di~ 
1 



AT OXFORD. 41 

minution of fortune, loss of friends, and of reputa- 
tion. These three general heads he, in his usual 
methodical way, subdivided into about six times 
that number of inferior heads ; comforted him* 
self [with the consolations of Christianity; re- 
doubled his diligence that he might recover 
the ground he liad lost; and finally syllogisti- 
cated the whole matter away. 

About this time died Mr. Morgan, one of 
their most active members. It was reported 
that this gentleman had shortened his days by 
excessive fasting; but this charge, which the 
discernment of Mr. Wesley foresaw would, if 
not timely refuted, prove of great hurt to his 
society, he took care to repel in a long letter 
to Mr. Morgan's father, who it seems had bee a 
before rather averse to his son's manner of life 
while at Oxford. Mr. Morgan was satisfied ; 
and this stroke was very opportunely warded 
off by the dexterity of Mr. Wesley. All these 
things, however, made against the prosperity of 
Methodism at Oxford ; and shortly after, on 
Mr. Wesley's removal to Georgia in America, 
this young society became nearly, if not en- 
tirely, extinct at the university. He was the 
life and soul of the cause. His spiritual valour 
gave courage to the cowardly ; filled the droop- 
ing with animation; and lifted up the falling, 
when assailed by the shafts of envy and re- 



42 DECLINE OF METHODISM, &C. 

proach. It was in his absence only, that any 
defection of zeal in his brethren took place : 
when, therefore, he was led by a sense of duty 
or inclination to leave them, the work of God 
at Oxford began to experience a visible de- 
cay, 

I am, &c, 



43 



LETTER VII 



Methodism visits America. 



DEAR MADAM, 

I jsr my last, I informed you of the decay of 
Methodism at Oxford. The few that remain- 
ed of the society continued steadfast and im- 
moveable, abounding in every good word and 
work. I do not know that the society expe- 
rienced any revival after the death of Mr. Moi> 
gan and the backsliding of the pupils; and an 
event was now approaching, that threatened its 
final dissolution: this was the removal of 
Messrs. John and Charles Wesleys, and Mr. Ing- 
ham, of Queen's College, to America. 

Be not alarmed, my dear Madam, to embark 
with our Methodists on the rude and ungovern- 
able ocean- — where the ark of the Lord is, there 
must be safety. We shall be in good company ; 



44 METHODISM 

and amidst the boisterous surges, the rolling 
billows, and the fierce combat of contending 
elements, the song of gladness shall be heard; 
the murmurings of despondency shall be stilled ; 
and the consolations of hope shall be our sup- 
port. Our cargo is religion; and our object 
the conversion of the Indians. 

In the formation of all wise governments 
some mode of religion has ever been deemed an 
essential requisite. As man is a social, so also 
is he a religious, being; hence has arisen the 
policy of associating civil and ecclesiastical in- 
terests in the same government. The philoso- 
pher, from a sense of honour, and from a concern 
for the happiness and dignity of human nature, 
will voluntarily and cheerfully submit to the re- 
straints which the condition of a mixed com- 
munity render necessary. The ignorant, the 
unruly, and the wicked, require a stronger band 
of union than the general laws of morality : the 
obligations of religion, the stimulus of fear, 
and the allurements of hope, must be held out 
to these, as inducements to order., and as re- 
strictions on the immoderate gratification of 
selfish interests and sensual desires. 

But I must have done with my speculations, 
Madam, and inform you, that the trustees of 
the newly planted colony of Georgia, wanting 
some missionaries to conduct the service of re- 
ligion in that settlement, and to endeavour to 



VISITS AMERICA. 



45 



convert their neighbours, the Indians, turn- 
ed their attention towards the two Wesleys, 
as proper persons for such a service. It seems 
the trustees for settling and establishing the co- 
lony of Georgia,, were men of a pious turn of 
mind, and they could not, one should have sup- 
posed, have made a more fortunate choice than 
they did, in sending Messrs. John and Charles 
Wesleys as missionaries to their colony. 

A long and somewhat tedious correspondence 
had for some time been carrying on between 
Mr. John Wesley and his relations respecting 
his removal to Epworth, to take charge of his 
father's flock. Old Mr. Wesley was now ad- 
vanced in years ; his growing infirmities daily 
gave him assurances that his sheep at Epworth 
would soon lose their shepherd. If his son John 
did not succeed him in the living, it appears 
that a Mr. M. must; and such was the old 
gentleman's dread of this, that he assured his 
son, " the prospect of that mighty Nimrod's 
coming thither shocked his soul ; and was in a 
fair way of bringing down his grey hairs with 
sorrow to the grave." His unbending son, how- 
ever, had no desire to leave Oxford; and he re- 
solved not to accept the Epworth living. His 
brother Samuel wrote to him on the subject ; 
but it seems without hope of success, for he 
tells him, he believes that no one could move 
his mind but him that made it. He neverthe- 



46 METHODISM 

less used several arguments, by way of trial, 
but all to no purpose. John replied to them 
in a long letter to his father, containing no 
fewer than six-and- twenty pretty long para-* 
graphs, being so many reasons why he should 
remain at Oxford, contrary to his father's and 
brother's wishes. I thought it necessary, Ma- 
dam, to mention this circumstance, as it un- 
folds a trait in Mr. Wesley's character, to 
which he was so much indebted for success 
in his subsequent conduct as head and go- 
vernor of the Methodist connexion. His fa- 
ther died in April, 1735, and the living was 
disposed of in May following ; so that now 
lie thought himself at rest at the univer- 
sity. But he was soon undeceived in this mat- 
ter; application being made to him, by Dr. 
Burton, who introduced him to Mr. Ogle- 
thorpe, governor of the colony of Georgia, re- 
questing his removal to America. Mr. Wesley, 
after having consulted his friends, with some 
little hesitation, consented to become a mission- 
ary to convert the Indians. Accordingly, on 
Tuesday, the 14th of October, 1735, he set out 
for Gravesend, in order to embark for Geor- 
gia, accompanied by his brother Charles, Mr. 
Ingham, and a Mr. Delamotte, a merchant's 
son in London. " Our end," says he, "in 
leaving our native country, was not to avoid 
want, God having given us plenty of temporal 



VISITS AMERICA. 47 

blessings; nor to gain the dung or dross of 
riches or honour; but singly this, to save our 
souls, and to live wholly to the glory of 
God." 

In the afternoon of the same day, they em- 
barked on board the Simmonds. The next 
day Mr. John Wesley wrote to his brother Sa- 
muel, who kept a school at Tiverton, informing 
him that, having presented his father's Com- 
mentary on the Book of Job, to the Queen, he 
had received, in return, many good wo?*ds and 
smiles. Good words and smiles, Madam, must 
always be acceptable from a lady ; but when 
they come from a Queen of England, they are 
surely doubly enchanting. Not that I w r ould 
insinuate that these kind of favours are but sel- 
dom granted at court ; yet as they were be- 
stowed on a Methodist, I hope, Madam, you 
will not think the mention of them unbecoming 
the gravity of my history. Iu this letter, Mr. 
Wesley cautions his brother against the beg" 
garly elements of Greek and Latin in his school. 
Not that he w r ished him to lay aside the use of 
them ; but to mind the gospel much more. He, 
however, besought him, by the mercies of God, 
to banish all such poison as Ovid, Virgil's 
jEneid, and Terence's Eunuch, from his school. 
That he should speak of these matters just at 
a time when he was about to leave his friends 
and his country, was owing, as he says, to the 



48 METHODISM 

uncertainty of having another opportunity of 
telling his brother his thoughts in this life. 

On board the Simmonds were twenty-six 
German Moravians ■ and Mr. Wesley immedi- 
ately began to learn the German language, that 
he might converse with them. David Nitch- 
man, the Moravian bishop, and two others, be- 
gan to learn English, that the benefit of con- 
versation might be mutual. It was here that 
Mr. Wesley's acquaintance with the Moravian 
brethren commenced; and here were confirmed 
the notions of mysticism, of faith, and of holi- 
ness, which he had imbibed some time before. 
When they had set sail from Gravesend, and 
gotten into the Downs, " We began," says 
he, Ci to be a little regular. Our common 
way of living was this — From four in the morn- 
ing till five, each of us used private prayer. 
From five till seven, we read the bible together, 
carefully comparing it (that we might not lean 
to our own understandings) with the writings 
of the earliest ages. At seven we breakfasted. 
At eight were the public prayers. From nine 
to twelve I usually learned German, and Mr. 
Delamotte Greek. My brother writ sermons, 
and Mr. Ingham instructed the children. At 
twelve we met, to give an account to one ano- 
ther what we had done since our last meeting, 
and what we designed to do before our next. 
About one we dined. The time from dinner to 



VISITS AMERICA. AQ 

four, we spent in reading to those of whom each 
of us had taken charge, or in speaking to them 
severally, as need required. At four were the 
evening prayers ; when either the second lesson 
was explained (as it always was in the morning), 
or the children catechised, and instructed he- 
fore the congregation. From five to six we 
again used private prayer. From six to seven 
I read in our cahin to two or three of our pas- 
sengers (of whom there were about eighty Eng- 
lish on board), and each of my brethren to a 
few more in theirs. At seven, I joined with the 
Germans in their public service; while Mr. Ing- 
ham was reading between the decks, to as many 
as desired to hear. At eight we met again, to 
exhort and instruct one another. Between nine 
and ten we went to bed, where neither the roar- 
ing of the sea, nor the motion of the ship, 
could take away the refreshing sleep which God 
gave us." 

Now, Madam, what think you of our Me- 
thodists on board a ship ? This is doing busi- 
ness systematically — in other words, it is doing 
it to some purpose — as it ought to be done. Mr. 
Wesley was determined that his society, large or 
small, should not be a rope of sand. O, Madam, 
this Methodism is the very life of business— the 
soul of enterprise ! 

I cannot conclude this epistle better, Ma- 



50 METHODISM 

dam, than by transcribing Dr. Whitehead's nar- 
rative of the remainder of their voyage. 

" The wind being contrary, they did not set 
sail from Cowes till the 10th of December. — 
On Thursday, the 15th of January, 1736, com- 
plaint being made to Mr. Oglethorpe, of the 
unequal distribution of water to the passengers, 
new officers were appointed, and the old ones 
were highly exasperated against Mr. Wesley, 
who, as they supposed, had made the complaint. 
From the 17th to the 25th they had violent 
storms, the sea going frequently over the ship, 
and breaking the cabin windows. On these 
occasions, he (Mr. Wesley) found the fear of 
death brought him into some degree of bond- 
age; and being a severe judge of himself, he 
concluded, that he was unfit, because he was 
unwilling, to die : at the same time, he could 
not but observe the lively and victorious faith 
which appeared in the Germans, and kept their 
minds in a state of tranquillity and ease, in the 
midst of danger, to which he and the English 
on board were strangers. Speaking of these 
humble followers of Christ, he said, i I had 
long before observed the great seriousness of 
their behaviour. Of their humility they had 
given continual proof, by performing those ser- 
vile offices for the other passengers which none 
of the English would undertake, for which they 



VISITS AMERICA. 51 

desired and received no pay ; saying, ' It was 
good for their proud hearts, and their loving 
Saviour had done more for them.' If they were 
pushed, struck, or thrown down, they rose again 
and went away ; but no complaint was found in 
their mouth. 

" In the midst of the psalm wherewith their 
service began, the sea broke over, split the 
mainsail in pieces, coveredirhe ship, and poured 
in between the decks, as if the great deep had 
already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming 
began among the English. The Germans calmly 
sung on. I asked one of them afterwards, ' Was 
you not afraid ?' He answered, ' I thank God, 
no.' I asked, c But were not your women and 
children afraid ?' He replied, mildly, e No ; 
our women and children are not afraid to 
die.' 

" On the 29th, they fell in with the skirts of 
a hurricane, which, however, did no damage. 
On the 4th of February, they saw land ; and on 
the 6th, after a stormy passage, set foot on 
American ground, on a small uninhabited island 
over against the Tybee, whence Mr. Oglethorpe 
led them to a rising ground, and they returned 
God thanks ; and then he took boat for Sa- 
vannah." 

During his passage, Mr. Wesley preached er- 
tempore— discontinued the use of flesh and wine, 

Eg 



52 METHODISM VISITS AMERICA. 

confining himself to vegetables and biscuit- 
left off eating suppers — and as he had, when 
his bed was wet, lain upon the floor, and slept 
well, he concludes, in a triumphant manner, " I 
believe I shall not find it needful to go to bed, 
as it is called, any more." 

I am, &e 9 



53 



LETTER nil. 



Progress of Methodism at Georgia. 



DEAR MADAM, 

I have now conducted the brethren across the 
Atlantic ; and have landed them in safety on 
the vast continent of America. In this letter, I 
purpose to develope the progress of Methodism, 
as it unfolded itself in the minds of our mission- 
aries, or made advances in the infant colony of 
Georgia. 

Methodism, considered as a strong spirit of 
piety and devotion, seems to be constitutional 
with some persons. Like the electric fluid, 
which pervades material substances, it often 
remains dormant in the soul, till by friction it is 
made visible, and brought into action, Mr. 
John Wesley was certainly, by nature, very 
highly charged with this spirit. Some of his 
very warm admirers have even thought him 



54 PROGRESS OF METHODISM 

sanctified from the womb. Himself was of a very 
different opinion ; and indeed it is congenial 
with this spirit for its recipients to imagine, or 
say they imagine, themselves to be the vilest 
of the vile. I must confess, however, that I 
once knew a travelling preacher, who, although 
very pious, and very methodistical, declared to 
me, that he did not think himself the chief of 
sinners; but then, to be sure, he was only a 
travelling preacher in Mr, Alexander Kilham's 
connexion; and this may possibly account for 
his presumption. Mr. Wesley himself, even in 
his dying moments, more than once was heard 
to exclaim—- 

(t I the chief of sinners am." 

If Mr. Wesley, after having spent a long life 
in carrying on the work of God among the people 
called Methodists, could thus denounce against 
himself, what, Madam, will you think, when I 
inform you, that, although he had left his own 
country that he might convert the poor Indians 
to the truth, and, by introducing religion, give 
a permanency to the Georgian government, he 
was yet a stranger to the true faith, not having 
the witness in himself, or knowing his sins to 
be washed away by the blood of the cross ? 
Whatever, Madam, you may think of the mat- 
ter, this was certainly the case, as he himself was 



AT GEORGIA. 55 

made to understand, the very day after his ar- 
rival in America. 

I have already intimated, that whatever 
might be his opinion of himself, he was certain- 
ly constitutionally methodistical. He was na- 
turally devout, and he seems to have loved to 
know the worst of his own character. 'When, 
therefore, his spirit came into contact with the 
spirit of one of the German pastors, whom Mr. 
Oglethorpe introduced to him, he speedily 
caught the celestial fire. " I soon found/' says 
Mr. Wesley, c: what spirit he was of; and asked 
his advice with regard to my own conduct." — 
Hear, Madam, the reply which this Moravian 
divine made our inquisitive missionary. " My 
brother," says he, " I must first ask you one or 
two questions. Have you the witness in your- 
self? Does the spirit of God bear witness with 
your spirit, that you are a child of God ? Do 
you know Jesus Christ ? Do you know he has 
saved you? Do you know yourself?'* Mr. 
Wesley's inability to answer these searching 
questions in a satisfactory manner, half, if not 
entirely, convinced him, that hitherto he had 
been little more than merely a nominal Chris- 
tian ! It is true, he answered the last of these 
questions in the affirmative : but he observes, 
that he feared his answer was composed of vain 
words. 

About a week after this conversation, some 

4 



56 PROGRESS OF METHODISM 

Indians were introduced to them, who shook 
them hy the hand, one of them saying — " I am 
glad you are come. When I was in England, I 
desired that some would speak the great word to 
me. And my nation then desired to hear it. 
But now we are all confusion. Yet I am glad 
you are come. I w 7 ill go up and speak to the 
wise men of our nation ; and 1 hope they will 
hear. But we would not be made Christians as 
the Spaniards make Christians. We would be 
taught before we are baptized." 

Mr. John Wesley answered — u There is but 
One, he that sitteth in heaven, who is able to 
teach man wisdom. Though we are come so 
far, we know not whether he will please to teach 
you by us or not. If he teach you, you will 
learn wisdom ; but we can do nothing." This, 
Madam, was but very poor encouragement to 
these inquiring Indians, who looked up to the 
white men to teach them every thing ; and not, 
when they made application to them for that 
purpose, to be coldly told, that that they could 
do nothing. With impressions, as we may well 
conjecture, not very favourable to the wisdom 
or kindness of these Christians, the poor disap- 
pointed Indians withdrew. Some months seem 
to have elapsed before any thing of consequence 
transpired between our missionaries and these 
simple-hearted heathens. In the meantime, 
Mr, John Wesley, and Mr. Delamotte, took a 



AT GEORGIA. 57 

temporary lodging with some of the Moravian 

brethren, their own house not being yet pre- 
pared for their reception. 

Mr. Wesley was a careful observer of men and 
manners, particularly of religious men, and their 
mode of conducting themselves. Beino; now 
under the same roof with the pious Moravians, 
he had an opportunity, day by day, of observing 
their whole behaviour; " for," says he, "we 
were in one room with them from moraine: to 
night, unless for the little time I spent in walk- 
ing."' To know the real state of a person's mo- 
ral character, it is often needful, Madam, to 
have opportunities of observing him in the daily 
domestic occupations of his life. To draw the 
human character with accuracy, we must not 
see men only, as they appear in the world, or in 
company. In the common concerns of social, 
commercial, or friendly intercourse, all men, 
whether they mean to be so or not, are more or 
less dressed for the character they wish to ap- 
pear in. A man may be a cheerful companion, 
an honest trader, and even a steady friend ; but 
he may be unreasonable and quarrelsome at 
home ; tyrannical over his servants ; iusolent 
before his equals ; and supercilious before his 
inferiors. It is an easy matter for some men to 
make a fair shew in the flesh ; or, as the renown- 
ed alegorist, John Bunyan, expresses it, to be a 
saint abroad, though a devil at home. Nor, 



58 PROGRESS OF METHODISM 

Madam, is this double character only found 
among men professing religion : men who 
would not for the world be thought pious ; 
in whose vocabulary saint and fool, devotion 
and hypocrisy, are synonymous ; even these, 
Madam, do very often act the hypocrite; and 
it is necessary to see them in some other capa- 
city than that of friend, companion, or chap- 
man, in order to form a true estimate of 
their character. Indeed, I know none bet- 
ter prepared to act a double part on the great 
theatre of human life, than those who despise 
religion, and call a man a fool and a Methodist 
because he believes Christianity, and who can 
see any particular advantage to be derived from 
profligacy of manners, or licentiousness in con- 
versation. 

Mr. Wesley had already begun to entertain a 
favourable opinion of the Moravians; and he 
was glad to have that opinion confirmed, as he 
observed the Christian conduct and amiable 
tempers which they manifested, not only among 
themselves, but towards each other. He bears 
the most honourable testimony to their charac- 
ter, observing that " they were always employed, 
always cheerful themselves, and in good humour 
with one another. They had put away all an- 
ger and strife, wrath and bitterness, and cla- 
mour and evil speaking. They walked worthy 
of the vocation wherewith they were called, and 



AT GEORGIA. 5.Q 

adorned the gospel of our Lord in all things." 
It is no wonder, Madam, that Mr. Wesley 
should, after this, think so highly of the Mora- 
vians. So high, indeed, was his opinion of these 
Christians, that, having been present at the or- 
dination of a bishop, he says, " The great sim- 
plicity, as well as solemnity of the whole, almost 
made me forget the seventeen hundred years 
between, and imagine myself in one of those as- 
semblies where form and state were not ; but 
Paul the tent- maker, or Peter the fisherman, 
presided : yet with the demonstration of the 
Spirit and of power." 

Mr. Wesley, having made rather an unpro- 
mising visit to the Indians, entered on his mi- 
nisterial engagements at Savannah, on March 
the 7th. Nearly a month elapsed, and finding 
no convenient opening for the conversion of the 
heathen, he and his companions proceeded to a 
more methodical arrangement of the flock at Sa- 
vannah. The more serious of them were form- 
ed into a society, to meet once or twice a week; 
and these again were subdivided in little com- 
panies, that they might form a more intimate 
union with each other ; and, by a close and 
friendly intercourse, strengthen each other's 
zeal, and be permanently and spiritually united. 
Here, Madam, was laid the foundation of what 
the Methodists call Classes and Bands, which, 
in the subsequent periods of Methodism, have 



GO PROGRESS OF METHODISM 

been the means of their union, and of their as- 
tonishing success. Whether, however, the un- 
settled state of Mr. Wesley's own religious opi- 
nions, or the quarrels and bickerings which had 
already begun to agitate them, operated in an 
unfriendly manner upon them, I know not ; but 
the Georgian Methodists seem to have made 
very little progress ; and in a short time it was 
thought necessary to abandon the scheme alto- 
gether. Of this I will treat in my next epistle ; 
and in the mean time, permit me, Madam, as the 
conclusion of this, to transcribe a curious dia- 
logue, which took place between Mr. Wesley 
and some Indians, on the subject of religion. 

" Q. Do you believe there is one above, who 
is above all things ? 

Paustoobee answered — W^e believe there are 
four beloved things above ; the clouds, the sun, 
the clear sky, and He that lives in the clear 
sky. 

Q. Do you believe, there is but one that lives 
in the clear sky ? 

A. We believe there are two with him ; three 
in all. 

Q. Do you think he made the sun, and the 
other beloved things ? 

A. We cannot tell. . Who hath seen ? 

Q. Do you think he made you ? 

A. We think he made all men at first. 



AT GEORGIA. Gl 

Q. How did he make them at first? 
A. Out of the ground. 
Q. Do you believe he loves you ? 
A. I do not know : I cannot see him. 
Q. But has he not often saved your life ? 
A. He has. Many bullets have gone on this 
side, and many on that sicle^ but he would never 
let them hurt me. And many bullets have 
gone into these young men, and yet they are 
alive. 

Q. Then cannot he save you from your ene- 
mies now ? 

A. Yes ; but we know not if he will. We 
have now so many enemies round about us, that 
I think of nothing but death. And if I am to 
die, I shall die, and I will die like a man. But 
if he will have me to live, I shall live, though I 
had never so many enemies. He can destroy 
them all. 

Q. How do you know that ? 
A. From what I have seen. When our ene- 
mies came against us before, then the beloved 
clouds came for us. And often much rain, and 
sometimes hail, has come upon them, and that 
in a very hot day. And I saw, when many 
French and Choctaws, and other nations, came 
against one of our towns ; and the ground made 
a noise under them, and the beloved ones in the 
air behind them ; and they were afraid, and 
went away, and left their meat and their drink ? 



62 PROGRESS OF METHODISM 

and their guns. I tell no lie. And these saw 
it too. 

Q. Have you heard such noises at other 
times ? 

A. Yes, often : before and after almost every 
battle. 

Q. Do you often think and talk of the be- 
loved ones? 

A. We think of them always, wherever we 
are. We talk of them, and to them, at home 
and abroad ; in peace, in war, before and after 
we fight ; and indeed whenever and wherever 
we meet together. 

Q. Where do you think your souls go after 
death ? 

A. We believe the souls of red men walk up 
and down near the place where they died, or 
where their bodies lie ; for we have often heard 
cries and noises near the place where any pri- 
soners had been burnt. 

Q. Where do the souls of white men go after 
their death ? 

A. We cannot tell. We have not seen. 

Q. Our belief is, that the souls of bad men 
only walk up and down ; but the souls of good 
men go up. 

A. I believe so too. But I told you the talk 
of the nation. 

Q, We have a book that tells us many things 



AT GEORGIA. 63 

of the beloved ones above — would you be glad 
to know them ? 

A. We have no time now but to fight. If we 
should ever be at peace, we should be glad to 
know. 

Q. What do the French teach you ? 

A. The French black kings (so they call the 
priests) never go out. We see you go about: 
we like that : that is good. 

Q. How came your nation by the knowledge 
they have ? 

A. As soon as ever the ground was sound, 
and fit to stand upon, it came to us, and has 
been with us ever since. But we are young- 
men. Our old men know more : but all of them 
do not know. There are but a few; whom the 
beloved one chooses from a child, and is in them, 
and takes care of them, and teaches them. 
They know these things : and our old men 
practise; therefore they know. But I do not 
practise ; therefore I know little." 

I am, &c. 



04 



LETTER IX. 



Bickerings j Persecutions, and Decline of Me- 



thodism at Georgia. 



DEAR MADAM, 

Mr. Charles Wesley went with his brother 
John to America, for the same purpose, that of 
converting the heathen. He was appointed se- 
cretary to Mr. Oglethorpe, and also secretary to 
India affairs ; and having been ordained before 
he left England, he entered upon the sacred of- 
fice with much zeal and activity. He was ap- 
pointed to superintend the flock at 'Frederica. 
Here he often read prayers and expounded in 
the open air; for the conveniences for social 
worship were here fewer even than those at Sa- 
vannah. Mr. Oglethorpe himself attended those 
exercises, and for a short time encouraged Mr. 
Charles Wesley by his presence and kindness : 
but, alas ! a month had scarcely elapsed from 



DECLINE OF METHODISM, &C. 65 

the time of their settlement, ere the private 
bickerings of the women began to disturb the 
infant church of Frederica, The beginning of 
strife is as when one letteth out water. A Mrs. 
W. and a Mrs. H. took it into their heads, for 
what cause it does not appear, to be at variance, 
and our missionary, well knowing that the suc- 
cess of his labours depended much upon the 
tempers of his flock, endeavoured to disarm the 
fiend of discord before he had done much mis- 
chief. 

Mrs. W. had come in the same vessel with 
our missionaries, and Mr. C. Wesley had in vain 
endeavoured to persuade her to lay aside the 
cares of the world, and " to give herself up to 
God." Equally vain were his pious attempts to 
reconcile her and Mrs. H. At all times, it seems, 
these angry women rejected the word of recon- 
ciliation. Jealousies among the women, in va- 
rious parts of the colony, now began to disturb 
the harmony of the church and the peace of 
Mr. Oglethorpe. Mr. Wesley's serious de- 
portment, his constant presence with them, and 
his frequent reproof of their licentious behaviour, 
soon made him an object of hatred ; and plans 
were formed either to ruin him in the opinion 
of Mr. Oglethorpe, or to take him off by vio- 
lence. 

On the 11th of March, after lig had performed 
divine service with about a dozen women, he 

F 



66 DECLINE OF METHODISM 

met Mrs. H.'s maid, in a great passion, and 
a flood of tears. She had left her mistress, with 
whom she had been quarrelling, and seemed re- 
solved to make away with herself. Mr. Wesley 
did what he could to reconcile them ; but failed 
in the attempt. It is insinuated by his biogra- 
phers, that in endeavouring to perform this la- 
bour of love, he had some way exasperated Mrs. 
H. so as to induce her to seek private revenge ; 
for in the evening of the same day he received 
the first harsh word from Mr. Oglethorpe, whose 
coldness increased to such a degree as to render 
it impossible for Mr. Wesley to remain in his 
presence. 

It does not appear what was the real cause of 
these disputes. A dark cloud of mystery in- 
volves the whole affair in obscurity. Mr. Charles 
Wesley, however, seems to have been treated in 
a very harsh and cruel manner. Every conve- 
nient utensil was kept from his use. In some 
instances he does not appear to have had even 
a proper bedstead to lie down upon. Mr. John 
Wesley visited Frederica several times, and did 
whatever lay in his power to stem the torrent 
that seemed to threaten the most destructive 
consequences ; but, alas ! a most serious affair 
was now impending over the head of Mr. John 
himself; and the storms of persecution and pri- 
vate bickerings were fast gathering Over the 
church of Savannah. 



AT GEORGIA. 67 

Mr. Charles Wesley and Mr. Ingham both re- 
turned to England; and Mr. John Wesley was 
left to bear the burthen and heat of the day, and 
to sustain the many trials and inconveniences 
which are ever attendant on the spirit of discord 
and uneasiness. 

I will not trouble you, Madam, with a tire- 
some relation of all the petty quarrels w T hich 
took place at Georgia. It is evident they made 
Mr. Wesley's life extremely uncomfortable. 
Of their real cause you must be content, Ma- 
dam, to remain in the dark. The most serious 
dispute, however, and that which ended in Mr. 
Wesley's removal from America, had its origin in 
a love affair,, between our missionary and Miss 
Sophy Causton, niece of Mr. Causton, the store- 
keeper and chief magistrate at Savannah. 

This affair is also involved in mystery. So 
much, however, of the matter is made known, 
that Mr. Wesley loved, and once intended to 
have married, Miss Causton ; but being rather 
tardy in satisfying the wishes of this lady, re- 
specting their marriage, it seems her patience in 
the course of one year was worn out, and she 
married herself to a Mr. Williamson. This was 
a most grievou.? affliction to the mind of Mr. 
Wesley. He compares it to the plucking out of 
his right eye. But he soon discovered some- 
thing in the conduct of Mrs. Williamson which 
caused him to bless God for his deliverance. 

f2 



6*8 DECLINE OF METHODISM 

What that something was, his biographers have 
thought it prudent to keep behind the curtain. 
Not having signified her intention, some time 
before, of partaking of the Lord's supper, Mr. 
Wesley repelled her from that ordinance ; and 
by so doing brought upon himself very consi- 
derable mischief. He justified himself on the 
grounds of the rubric, which requires that iC So 
many as intend to partake of the holy commu- 
nion, shall signify their names to the curate, at 
least some time the day before/' And also, 
i( That if any of these — have done any thing 
wrong to his neighbour, by word or deed, so 
that the congregation be thereby offended, the 
curate shall advertise him, that in any wise he 
he presume not to come to the Lord's table, un- 
til he hath openly declared himself to have truly 
repented." Neither the one nor the other of 
these conditions had Mrs. Williamson perform- 
ed, and having done something to offend at least 
part of the congregation, she was therefore pro- 
ceeded against according to canon law. 

On the 1 6th August, 1737, Mr. Wesley ac- 
tually read in the open congregation, a relation 
of the case between Mrs. Williamson and him- 
self; and this lady as confidently and as po- 
sitively swore to, and actually signed, a paper, 
containing several matters injurious to the cha- 
racter of her pastor and former lover. 



AT GEORGIA. 69 

A day or two after Mrs. Williamson had been 
repelled from the holy communion, a warrant 
was issued and served upon Mr. Wesley, and he 
was carried before the recorder and magistrates. 
Mr. Williamson's charge was, 1. That Mr. Wes- 
ley had defamed his wife. 2. That he had cause- 
lessly repelled her from the holy communion. 
The first charge Mr. Wesley denied ; and con- 
cerning the second, he would not acknow- 
ledge the magistrate's authority to interrogate 
him. He was, nevertheless, given to understand, 
that he must appear at the next court holden for 
Savannah. 

Mr. Causton, the store -keeper, also took up 
the cause of his niece ; and, if we may credit 
Mr. Wesley's biographers, which I am disposed 
to think we may, employed himself very busily 
in preparing those who were to form the grand 
jury at the next court-day. Monday the 22d, 
the court was formed and forty-four jurors 
were sworn in, to be a grand jury to find the 
bills. A lon«* and earnest charge was given to 
them, " to beware of spiritual tyranny, and to 
oppose the new illegal authority which was 
usurped over their consciences." 

A list of grievances was presented by the 
grand jury of Savannah ; and, after various de- 
bates, examinations, shuffling, and quibbling, 
the list of grievances was transformed into two 



70 DECLINE OF METHODISM 

presentments, containing ten bills, only two of 
which related to the affair of Mrs. Williamson ; 
and only one even of these was cognizable by 
that court, the rest being of an ecclesiastical 
nature. 

I will not trouble you, Madam, with any far- 
ther detail of this trifling business. Mr. Wesley 
was probably in some instances rash and impru- 
dent ; but he plainly told the court, that they 
knew their business, and that he knew his; at 
the same time intimating that they might act as 
they saw best; knowing that nothing criminal 
could be proved against him. The court of 
Savannah seems to have been composed of a most 
ignorant set; aiid that their general conduct 
was such as made it desirable to them to have 
so faithful and penetrating a minister as Mr. 
Wesley at a distance from the scene of their li- 
centiousness. 

Mr. Wesley seeing no prospect of converting 
the Indians, or of doing much good in Georgia, 
resolved, with the advice of his friends, to re- 
turn to England. Accordingly, on the 24th of 
November, he put up the following advertise- 
ment in the great square, and prepared for his 
journey : 

" Whereas John Wesley designs shortly to set 
out for England, this is to desire those who 



AT GEORGIA. 71 

have borrowed any books of him, to re- 
turn them as soon as they conveniently can, 
to 

" John Wesley." 

The magistrates of Savannah seeing him 
determined to leave America, sent for him, 
and required that he should sign a bond to ap- 
pear at Savannah when required ; and also to 
give bail to Mr. Williamson's action of one 
thousand pounds damages. It should be un- 
derstood, that Mr. Oglethorpe had before this 
set sail for England. Had he been at the co- 
lony, it is probable he would have prevented 
these measures. It was now that Mr. Wesley, 
seeing, as he observes, into their design of spin- 
ning out time and doing nothing, plainly said — 
M Sir, I will neither sign one bond nor the 
other: you know your business and I know 
mine." Notwithstanding an order of the magis- 
trates had been that day published, requiring 
all officers to prevent his going out of the pro- 
vince, and forbidding any person to assist him 
so to do, Mr. W T esley left Savannah in the even- 
ing, in company with three other persons, no 
one attempting to hinder him. 

During his voyage to England, he entered 
into a close and severe examination of him- 
self January 8, 1738, he writes thus: " By 
the most infallible of proofs^ inward feeling, I 
% 



72 DECLINE OF METHODISM 

am convinced, 1. Of unbelief, having no such 
faith in Christ as will prevent my heart from 
"being troubled. 2. Of pride, throughout my 
life past; inasmuch as I thought I had what I 
find I have not. 3. Of gross irrecollection ; in- 
asmuch as in a storm I cry to God every mo- 
ment, in a calm not. Of levity and luxuriancy 
of spirit — appearing by my speaking words not 
tending to edify ; but most, by my manner of 

speaking of my enemies. Lord, save, or I 

perish ! Save me, 1. By such a faith as implies 
peace in life and death. 2. By such humility as 
may fill my heart from this hour for ever, with a 
piercing uninterrupted sense, Nihil est quod hac- 
tenusfaci, that hitherto I have done nothing. 3. 
By such a recollection as may enable me to cry 
to thee every moment. 4. By steadiness, seri- 
ousness, ffsiAvolwli, sobriety of spirit, avoiding as 
fire, every word that tendeth not to edifying, 
and never speaking of any who oppose me, or sin 
against God, without all my own sins set in ar- 
ray before my face." 

A few days after this he adds, " I went to 
America to convert the Indians ; but, Oh ! who 
shall convert me ? Who is he that will deliver 
me from this evil heart of unbelief? I have a 
fair summer religion; I can talk well, nay, and 
believe myself when no danger is near; but 
let death look me in the face, and my spirit is 
troubled. Nor can I say — To die is gain / 



AT GEORGIA. fS 

?f I have a sin of fear, that when I've spun 
JNIy last thread, I shall perish on the shore J" 

Such, Madam, was the success of the first 
methodistical mission to convert the heathen, 
and such were the reflections of the principal 
missionary on his return home, I leave you to 
make your own observations on the subject ; and 
subscribe myself, 

Yours, &c, 



74 



LETTER X 



Progress of Methodism, and Conversion of the 
IFcsIeys. 



DEAR MADAM, 

In my last I left Mr. John Wesley on his return 
to England, writing bitter things against him- 
self, and making the most gloomy and discou- 
raging reflections on the state of his spiritual 
concerns. 

He landed at Deal, on February 1, 1738; 
where he was informed Mr. Whitefield had sailed 
the day before for Georgia. He read prayers 
and explained a portion of scripture to a large 
company at the inn ; and on the third arrived 
safe in London. 

Mr. Chares Wesley arrived in London in De- 
cember, 1736, in the same unhappy disposition 
of mind in which we have just seen his brother 
John. A confused notion of faith, and of sen- 



CONVERSION, &C 75 

vsible conversion, kept him in a state of the 
greatest abjection of soul — the most unpleasant 
degradation of intellect. 

Some time in January, 1737, the active Mo- 
ravian, Count Zinzindorf, arrived in England, 
for the purpose of effecting a union between the 
Moravian and the English churches at Georgia. 
This gentleman, having heard of the piety and 
austerities of the Wesleys, soon after his arrival 
sent for Mr. Charles, and through his influence 
procured an introduction to those persons whose 
power and interest were necessary to the accom- 
plishment of his object. In return for these 
ecclesiastical services, Mr. Charles Wesley seems 
to have received certain spiritual instructions 
relative to the nature of faith, and the mode 
and terms of partaking of the divine favour. 

Mr. Wesley spent this year in attending on 
the Trustees and the Board of Trade; in ex- 
tending his spiritual connections in London, 
Oxford, and the West of England. He con- 
sulted Mr. Law on the state of his soul ; but 
seems to have received no very satisfactory in- 
formation on that head. He had not resigned 
the reins of reason into the hands of an ima- 
ginary abstraction of soul, and could not easily 
comprehend the force of his friend's counsel, 
to " renounce himself, and not be impa- 
tient." 



76 CONVERSION 

About the beginning of February, 1738, one 
Peter Bohler, another Moravian of note, arrived 
in England. Much about the same time Mr. 
John Wesley returned from Georgia. Peter 
cultivated an acquaintance with the two bro- 
thers, and seems to have laboured hard for their 
conversion. This gentleman appears to me to 
have been strongly tinctured with German en- 
thusiasm. With much zeal for protelytism, he 
appears to have drank largely at the Bourigno- 
nian spring of mystical speculation, and fancied 
illuminations. He was now at Oxford with Mr. 
Charles Wesley, pressing upon the moral and 
regular scholars the necessity of conversion. But, 
as Dr. Whitehead observes, none of them seemed 
to understand him. 

Mr. Charles Wesley being taken dangerously 
ill of a pleurisy, he requested Peter Bohler to 
pray for him. Peter hesitated: but at length, 
beginning faintly, he prayed for his recovery 
with strange confidence. He then took him by 
the hand, and calmly said, " You will not die 
now!!" What information Bohler could have 
received concerning this matter, it is not for 
you or me, Madam, to inquire. He asked his 
sick friend if he hoped to be saved. This ques- 
tion seems to have been put for a similar reason 
to that of a bad poet, who often writes one line 
for the sake of producing a jingle by another 



OF THE WESLEYS. 77 

He foresaw that Mr. Wesley would answer bis 
question in the affirmative, and immediately on 
this beino; the case, asked, " For what reason do 
you hope to be saved?" "Because," replied 
the worthy sick man, " I have used my best en- 
deavours to serve God/' The enthusiast shook 
his head, and was silent. Mr. Charles Wesley 
happily recovered, and confirmed the pious 
prognostications of his Moravian confessor. 

Observe. Madam, the progress of Methodism ! 
Remark the development of those speculations 
which, since the effervescence of puritanism was 
blown off the minds of our countrymen, had 
been almost whollv forgotten in these islands. 

On the 25th of April, the two brothers, with 
a Mr. Broughton, and Mrs. Delamotte, fell into 
a warm dispute, whether conversion was gradual 
or instantaneous. Mr. John Weslev, beino- of a 
more sanguine disposition than his brother, very 
positively contended for the latter; and shocked 
his brother Charles, by producing some late in- 
stances of gross sinners being converted in a mo- 
ment ! So warm was Mr. John in his defence of 
this strange notion, that- both his brother and 
Mrs. Delamotte found it impossible to stay any 
longer in the room ! Mr. Charles, however,, 
soon came over to his brother's opinion on the 
subject, and contended that sinners may be 
born again in the twinkling of an eye. This, 
Madam, will not appear so very strange, when 



CONVERSION 



you are informed, that to attain this great end 
of instantaneous conversion, or indeed of any 
conversion at all, according to the opinion of a 
Methodist, a certain sort. of faith is requisite; 
a kind of preparatory, accommodating, and ini- 
tiatory principle or notion. But I will speak of 
this, when I come to treat of the doctrines of the 
Wesley an s. In the mean time, I must inform 
you, that after all the virtuous toil of the two 
Wesleys, during a period of nearly ten years, 
they were both well convinced, that as yet they 
had not the faith of the gospel ! This great de- 
fect in the minds of these two zealous ministers, 
it seems, "was owing to a want of clear views of 
Christ, and of a living faith in him. Accordingly, 
being very sincere, everything that agonizing 
prayer, bodily mortifications, assisted by Hali- 
burton, Martin Luther, and Peter Bohler, could 
do, was employed to effect the speedy conver- 
sion of Messrs. John and Charles Wesley. The 
time, however, was happily drawing near, when 
they should emerge from Egyptian darkness ; 
when the candle of the Lord should shine upon 
them — the radiance of divine truth enlighten 
them ; when the long black list @f real or ima- 
ginary transgressions being removed, they 
should receive beauty for ashes, the oil of joy 
for mourning, and the garments of praise for the 
spirit of heaviness. I hasten, Madam, with 
pleasure, to the relation of so desirable an event 



OF THE WES LEYS. 79 

This, however, is a most delicate matter to 
touch upon; and as I would not misconceive or 
misrepresent these facts, I will give you the ac- 
count in their own or their friends' words. 

Mr. Charles Wesley was the first of the two 
that was set at liberty. This was in Whitsun- 
tide, about three days prior to the spiritual de- 
liverance of his brother John. Of Charles's 
conversion, Dr. Whitehead writes as follows — 

" On Whitsunday, May 21, he waked in hope 
and expectation of soon attaining the object of 
his wishes, the knowledge of Cod reconciled in 
Christ Jesus. At nine o'clock, his brother and 
some friends came to him, and sung a hymn 
suited to the day. When they left him, he Re- 
took himself to prayer. Soon afterwards, a per- 
son came and said, in a very solemn manner, 
c Believe in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and 
thou shalt be healed of all thine infirmities/ The 
words went through his heart, and animated him 
with confidence. He looked into the scripture, 
and read, * Now, Lord, what is my hope? truly 
my hope is even in thee/ He then cast his eye 
on these words, * He hath put a new song into 
my mouth, even thanksgiving unto our God : 
Many shall see it and fear, and put their trust in 
the Lord.' Afterwards he opened Isaiah, xl. h 
i Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith our 
God ; speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry 
unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that 



SO CONVERSION" 

her iniquity is pardoned ; for she hath received 
of the Lord's hand douhle for all her sins.' In 
reading these passages of scripture, he was en- 
abled to view Christ as set forth to be a propi- 
tiation for his sins, through faith in his blood, 
and received that peace and rest in God which 
he had so earnestly sought. 

" The next morning he waked with a sense of 
the divine goodness and protection, and rejoiced 
in reading the 107th psalm, so nobly descrip- 
tive, he observes, of what God had done for his 
soul. This day he had a very humbling view of 
his own weakness ; but was enabled to contem- 
plate Christ in his power to save to the utter- 
most, all those who come unto God by him. 
Many evil thoughts were suggested to his mind, 
but they immediately vanished away. In the 
afternoon, he was greatly strengthened by these 
words, in the forty-third chapter of Isaiah, 
which he saw were spoken to encourage and 
comfort the true Israel of God, in every age of 
his church — ' But now thus saith the Lord that 
created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, 
O Israel, Fear not : for I have redeemed thee, I 
have called thee by thy name ; thou art mine. 
When thou passest through the waters, I will be 
with thee; and through the rivers, they shall 
not overflow thee ; when thou walkest through 
the fire, thou shall not be burned ; neither shall 
the ilame kindle upon thee. For I am the 



OF THE WES LEYS. 81 

Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Sa- 
viour." 

Such, Madam, is the account given by Mr. 
Charles Wesley of his conversion. I forbear, 
at present, to make any remarks or observations 
on this event and the mode of its procedure, and 
hasten to lay before you the state of Mr. John 
Wesley's case under similar circumstances. 

Wednesday, May the 24th, he writes thus— 
" I think it was about five this morning that I 
opened my Testament on those words, * There 
are given unto us exceeding great and precious 
promises, that by these ye might be partakers of 
the divine nature.' 

" Just as I went out, I opened it again on 
those words, ( Thou art not far from the king- 
dom of God.' Iu the afternoon I was asked to 
go to St. Paul's. The anthem was, ' Out of 
the deep have I called unto thee, OLord ! Lord, 
hear my voice/ &c. 

" In the evening I went very unwillingly to 
a society in Aldersgate-street, where one was 
reading Luther's preface to the epistle to the 
Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he 
was describing the change which God works in 
the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart 
strange!}^ warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ 
— Christ alone — for salvation : and an assur- 
ance was given me, that he had taken away my 

G 



S£ CONVERSION, &C 

sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of 
sin and death. 

Ci I began to pray with all my might, for those 
who had in a more especial manner despitefully 
used me and persecuted me. I then testified 
openly to all there, what I now first felt in my 
heart. But it was not long before the enemy 
suggested, ' This cannot be faith, for where is 
thy joy?' Then was I taught, that peace and 
victory over sin, are essential to faith in the Cap- 
tain of our salvation ; but, that as to the transports 
of joy, that usually attend the beginning of it, 
especially in those who have mourned deeply, 
God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth them, 
according to the counsels of his own will" 

You have now, Madam, a faithful account of 
the conversion of these two well-meaning and 
pious clergymen. It would be improper, pro- 
bably rash and presumptuous, to make any fur- 
ther observations on this matter: I therefore 
subscribe myself, 

Your's, &c. 



S3 



LETTER XL 



Third Period of Methodism — Orders of a Religi- 
ous Society — Mr. Wesley doubts of his Conver- 
sion — Visits Germany. 



DEAR MADAM, 

• Mi f rater, mi frater, excoquenda est ista tua 
philosophia :" — My brother, my brother, that 
philosophy of your-s must be purged away : 
So said Peter Bohler to Mr. John Wesley, who 
could not easily exclude the use of his reason in 
matters of religion. We have, however, seen 
that the philosophy of Mr. Wesley did not fi- 
nally prevent his conversion. After that event 
Methodism began to spread most astonishingly 
— Many run to and fro, and knowledge was in- 
creased. 

You are not to understand, Madam, that the 
two brothers were tht first that, about this time, 
stept into the glorious liberty of Moravian Me- 
thodism. Many others had already been set at 



84 THIRD PERIOD 

liberty; and in particular, Mr. Hutchins, of 
Pembroke College, and a Mr. Fox, who were 
" two living witnesses, that God can, at least, 
if he does not always, give that faith whereof 
cometh salvation, in a moment, as lightning 
falling from heaven !" These, with the two 
brothers, and about forty others, had formed 
themselves into a society which met in Fetter- 
lane every Wednesday evening, that they might 
enjoy free conversation, and build each other 
up in the faith. Mr. Wesley, in his Ecclesiasti- 
cal History, calls this the third period of Me- 
thodism. It was the first Methodist society in 
London, since the days of Puritanism : a society 
wherein was as much zeal, and as much piety, 
with less rebellion and less treason, than that 
which, about two hundred years before, met at 
Essex-house, in the Strand ; when the fallen, 
the degraded, the infatuated favourite of Eliza- 
beth, employing religion to the basest of pur- 
poses, laid up for himself (not like our Method- 
ists in Fetter-lane, who devoutly sought a crown 
of righteousness) a treasure of wrath, which 
brought him to utter destruction, and gave the 
lie to all his religious pretensions. No, Madam, 
whatever similarity is discoverable in the reli- 
gious notions, and pious practices, of the Pu- 
ritans and Methodists, I am convinced there 
a very material difference in their poll- 
cs, 



OF METHODISM. 85 

The following are the Rules by which the So- 
ciety I am speaking of was governed ; and were 
entitled — 



" Orders of a Religious Society, meeting 
in Fetter-lane ; in obedience to the Command 
of God by St. James, and by the Advice of 
Peter Bolder" These Rules being printed, 
it \v r as agreed, 

il I. That they would meet together once in a 
week, to confess their faults one to another, and 
to pray for one another, that they might he 
healed. 

" 2. That others, of whose sincerity they 
were well assured, might, if they desired it, meet 
with them for that purpose. 

" 3. That the persons, so meeting, should be 
divided into several hands, or little companies, 
none of which should consist of fewer than five, 
or more than ten persons. 

" 4. That some person in each band should 
speak to the rest in order, and he called the 
leader of the band. 

" 5. That each band should meet twice a- 
week ; once on Monday evening, and the se- 
cond time as might be most convenient; every 
meeting; to be besrun and ended with singincy 
and prayer. 



86 ORDERS OF A 

" 6. That every one in order should speak as 
freely, plainly, and concisely, as he could, the 
state of his heart, with the several temptations 
and deliverances since the last time of meet- 
ing. 

" 7. That all the bands should have a con* 
ference at eight every Wednesday evening, be- 
gun and ended with singing and prayer. 

" 8. That any who desired to be admitted 
into this society, should be asked, ' What are 
your reasons for desiring this ? Will you be en- 
tirely open, using no kind of reserve ? Have 
you any objection to any of our orders ?' 

" 9. That any one might make objections 
to any new member that should be proposed. 

li 10. That those against whom no reason- 
able objection appeared, should, in order for 
their trial, be formed into one or more dis- 
tinct bands, and some person agreed on to as- 
sist tli em. 

" 11. That after two months' trial, if no ob- 
jection then appeared, they might be admitted 
into the society. 

" 12. That every fourth Saturday should be 
observed as a day of general intercession, which 
mio-ht continue from twelve to two, from three 
tp five, and from six to eight. 

iC 13. That on the Sunday sevennight fol- 
lowing, there should be a general love feast, from 
seven till ten in the evening. 



RELIGIOUS SOCIETY. 87 

t£ 14. That no particular person should be 
allowed to act in any thing contrary to any or- 
der of this society ; but that every one, without 
distinction, should submit to the determination 
of his brethren: and that if any person or per- 
sons did not, after being thrice admonished, 
conform to the society, they should no longer 
be esteemed as members. 

" Jo. That any person whom the whole so- 
ciety should approve, might be accounted a 
corresponding member, and as such be admit- 
ted to the general meetings, provided he cor- 
responded with the society at least once a- 
rnonth." 

These, Madam, are the regulations which con- 
stitute the basis of the whole Methodist economy 
to the present day. " It would have been 
happy," says Dr. Whitehead, " for the Methodist 
societies, if these rules had been preserved 
among them, and rigorously kept: the work 
would in that case have been more pure than 
it has been, and much confusion would have 
been prevented." A very just and rational ob- 
servation. 

It was a natural consequence, that,, shortly 
after his conversion, Mr. Wesley should be at- 
tacked by various doubts, and by internal as well 
as external conflicts. The revoltingsof his sub- 



£8 MR. WESLEY DOUBTS 

jected reason; the natural love of entire intel- 
lectual liberty ; and the suggestions of friends 
and enemies all conspired to " saw asunder 1 ' 
his tender mind. The conversion of so good a 
man as Mr. Wesley could not be so perceptible 
as to admit of no doubt. Having no other data 
on which to build the certainty of his acceptance 
with the Beloved, than the fallible testimony of 
supposed internal feelings, or remote inferences 
from the scriptures, it was very often a matter 
of great doubt with him whether he even yet 
possessed the right faith ; whether even yet 
God had pardoned his sins. Having myself 
known something of this wretched state of 
mind — this miserable halting between two opi- 
nions — I most sincerely pity the unhappy vic- 
tims of such spiritual scepticism. The follow- 
ing stanzas, being part of a hymn composed by 
one under the influence of these doubting^ 
will give you a faint idea of this state of misery 
and suspense — 

a 'Tis a point I long to know, 

Oft it causes anxious though t ? 
Do I love the Lord, or no ? 

Am I his, or am I not ? 

If I love, why am I thus ? 

Why this dull and helpless frame ? 
Hardly, sure, can they be worse 

Who have never heard his name. 



OF HIS CONVERSION". 89 

Could my heart so hard remain ? 

Prayer a task and burden prove? 
Every trifle give me pain, 

If I knew a Saviour's love ? 

When I turn my eyes within, 

All is dark, and vain, and wild ; 
FilPd with unbelief and sin, 

Can I deem myself a child ? 

If I pray, or hear, or read, 

Sin is mix'd with all I do : 
Ye who love the Lord indeed, 

Tell me, is it thus with you ?" 

Such, Madam, is the lamentable state of mind 
which generally follows the overflowings of iov, 
the divine ecstacies, the rapturous delights, of 
instantaneous conversion; and such was the 
humiliating condition of Mr. John Wesley. 
They are the after-pains of the new birth — the 
melancholy forebodings of an honest but fearful 
heart. 

Never man was more desirous of building 
on a sure foundation in religion than was Mr. 
John Wesley. That he might be strength- 
ened in liis mind, by the example and advice of 
the Moravian brethren, lie determined to visit 
Germany ; where, at Hernhuth in particular, he 
-would meet with many who had long trodden in 
these paths, and who would rejoice to be the 



90 VISITS GERMANY. 

helpers of his joy. Accordingly, he left Ins 
mother, and embarked at Gravesend, accom- 
panied by Mr. Ingham, on the 15th of Jane, 
and landed at Rotterdam. On his journey 
through Holland and Germany, he found se- 
veral who had imbibed the same notions of 
religion with himself. At Marienborn, he met 
with Count Zinzendorf, Count de Solmes, and 
several other eminent Moravians, who all en- 
couraged him to proceed in his spiritual course 
without wavering. At Hernhuth, where he ar- 
rived on the 1st of August, he staid a fortnight. 
At this place, he says, he was " exceedingly 
comforted and strengthened by the conversa- 
tion of this lovely people," and that he " re- 
turned to England more fully determined to 
spend his life in testifying the gospel of the 
grace of God." "I would gladly/' says he, "have 
spent my life here; but my Master calling me 
to labour in another part of his vineyard, on 
Monday, August, the 14th, I was constrained 
to take my leave of this happy place." 

" Oh V he exclaims, " when shall this 
Christianity cover the earth, as the waters cover 
the sea ! " 

Soon after his return to England, he entered 
upon a strict examination of himself and the 
grounds on which he had reason to believe 
himself to be a new creature. Taking St. Paul's 



EXAMINES HIMSELF. .^J 

assertion, that if any man be in Christ he is a 
new creature, as the test of this examination, he 
proceeded to notice free particulars in which it 
was necessary such a one should be renewed, 
who is a new creature. These were — his judg- 
ments, his designs, his desires, his conversation, 
and his actions. The first of these particulars 
he subdivided into three separate branches — a 
man's judgment of himself, of happiness, and 
of holiness. Before a man can be said to be a 
new creature, "he must judge of himself to be 
altogether fallen short of the glorious image of 
God ; to have no good tiling abiding him, but 
all that is corrupt and abominable; in a word, 
to be wholly earthly, sensual, and devilish : 
a motley mixture of beast and devil ! !" It is 
"hardly credible, Madam; but Mr. Wesley adds, 
" Thus, by the grace of God in Christ, I judge 
of myself. Therefore I am, in this respect, a 
new creature I" 

He proceeded with the other parts of his 
examination in like manner; and concludes 
thus — Cw Upon the whole, although I have not 
yet that joy in the Holy Ghost, nor the full as- 
surance of faith, much less am I, in the ful 
sense of the words, in Christ a new creature 
I nevertheless trust, that I have a. measure of 
faith, and am accepted in the Beloved. I tins': 
the hand- writing that was against me is blotted 



02 EXAMINES HIMSELF. 

out, and that I am reconciled to God through 
his Son/ 5 

Such was the half-douhting, half-confiden- 
tial, language of Mr. Wesley, even after his re- 
turn from visiting the pious and well-experienc- 
ed Hernhutters. 



I am, &c. 



93 



LETTER XII. 



Increase of Methodism — Specimens 



It is wonderful to remark with what rapidity 
the new faith began to spread itself in London, 
Oxford, and Bristol. On the 13th of October, 
Mr. Wesley writes from Oxford to some of his 
friends in Holland and Germany, giving them 
an account of the success of his labours since 
his return. Permit me, Madam, to transcribe 
part of these letters, for your information, con- 
cerning this business. 

To Dr. Koker he writes thus : " God's blessed 
Spirit has wrought so powerfully, both in Lon- 
don and Oxford, that there is a general awaken- 
ing, and multitudes are crying out, ' What must 
we do to be saved ?" To Mr. Ingham, at Hern- 
huth, he writes thus: u A great and effectual 

2 



94 INCREASE OT METHODISM. 

door is opened ; and we continue, through evil 
report and good report, to preach the gospel of 
Christ to all people, and earnestly contend for 
the faith once delivered to the saints. Indeed, 
he hath given us many of our fiercest opposers, 
who now receive wi-th meekness the ingrafted 
word. One of the bitterest of them could have 
no rest in his spirit, till, on Saturday, the 30th 
of September, Old Style, he was compelled 
to send for me, who knew him not, so much 
as by face, and to tell me the secrets of his 
heart." This man confessed himself in the 
most abject manner, declaring among other 
evils, that, the very night before, he had been 
iruiltv of cross drunkenness, notwithstanding 
his strong and repeated resolutions to the con- 
trary. Mr. Wesley adds — " We fell on our 
knees, and besought our Lord to bring this sin- 
ner unto God, who through his blood justifieth 
the ungodly. He arose, and his countenance 
was no longer sad ; for he knew, and testified 
aloud, that he was passed from death unto life, 
and felt in himself that he was healed of his 
plague. And from that hour to this, he hath 
peace and joy in believing, and sin Lath no 
more dominion over him ! 

" Mr. Stonehouse hath at length determined 
to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him cru- 
cified ; and to preach unto ail remission of sins 
through faith in his blood. Mr. Hutchins is 



INCREASE OF METHODISM. 95 

strong in the faith, and mightily convinces 
gainsayers, so that no man hath hitherto been 
able to stand before him. Mr. Kircher, Gam- 
bold, and Wells, have not yet received com- 
fort, but are patiently waiting for it. Mr. Rob- 
son, who is now a minister of Christ also, is full 
of faith, and peace, and love. So is Mr. Combes, 
a little child, who was called to minister in holy 
things two or three weeks ago. Indeed, I trust 
our Lord will let us see, and that shortly, a mul- 
titude of priests that believe. My brother and 
I are partly here, and partly in London, till Mr. 
Whitefield, or some other, is sent to release us 
from hence." 

To Count Zinzendorf, at Marienborn, Mr. 
Wesley writes, that the love and zeal of the 
brethren in Holland and Germany had stirred up 
many who would not be comforted till they 
came to partake of the great and precious pro- 
mises. 

" To the Church of God which is in Hernhuth, 
John Wesley, an unworthy presbyter of the 
Church of God in England, wisheth all grace 
aud peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. Octo- 
ber 14th. 

" Fourteen were added to us since our return, 
so that we have now eight bands of men, con- 
sisting of fifty-six persons." — " As yet we have 
only two small bands of women, the one of three, 
the other of five, persons. But here are many 



96 INCREASE OF METHODISM. 

others who only wait till we have leisure to in- 
struct them." 

" Though my brother and I are not permitted 
to preach in most of the churches in London, 
yet, thanks be to God, there are others left, 
wherein we have liberty to speak the truth as it 
is in Jesus. Likewise every evening, and 
on set evenings in the week, at two several 
places, we publish the word of reconciliation, 
sometimes to twenty or thirty, sometimes to 
fifty or sixt} T , sometimes to three or four hun- 
dred persons, met together to hear it. We be- 
2.in and end all our meetings with sinajina: and 
prayer ; and we know that our Lord heareth our 
prayer, having more than once or twice, and 
this was not done in a corner, received our peti- 
tions in that very hour. 1 ' 

"Ten ministers I now know in England who 
lay the right foundation/' — " Over and above 
whom, I have found cue Anabaptist, and one > 
if not two, of the teachers among the Presby- 
terians here." 

In another letter, to Dr. Koker, he says — 
" The harvest is plenteous, and the labourers 
few; and it increases upon us daily." To Mr. 
Viney, at Ysselstein — "After a long sleep, there 
seems now to be a great awakening in this place 
also. The Spirit of the Lord hath already shaken 
the dry bones, and some of them stand up and 
live. But I am still dead and cold; having 



o 



INCREASE OE METHODISM. 9? 

peace indeed, but no love or joy in the Holy 
Ghost. O, pray for me ! that I may see and 
feel myself a sinner," &c. 

These short extracts, Madam, will afford you 
some information respecting the spread of the 
work after Mr. Wesley's return from Germany. 
You will also thereby become a little acquainted 
with the vocabulary of Methodism. To one unac- 
customed to the technical phraseology of these 
people, many of their writings are as unintelli- 
gible as the poems of Burns or Allan Ramsay to a 
merely English ear — a glossary being almost as 
necessary in the one case as in the other. Even 
the language and style of the scriptures, with a 
methodistical application, become as dark and 
mysterious, as the newly-coined phrases by which 
the writings and conversation of Methodists are 
so much obscured. Mr. Wesley, however, 
spoke much better English than did many of 
his followers. 

During his residence in Germany, and Mr. 
Whitefield's in America, the work of Methodism 
had been makiug rapid advances in England, 
under the auspices of Mr. Charles Wesley. Nu- 
merous societies were formed in London, Ox- 
ford, and Bristol; and multitudes were brought 
in; instantaneous conversions became common; 
extravagances of the most marvellous nature^ 
were practised ; and dreams, visions, sudden il- 
luminations, and extraordinary agitations of 

H 



9& SPECIMENS. 

mind and body, gave witness that a great 
out-pouring of the spirit was soon to be ex- 
pected. 

When Mr. Whiten* eld returned from America, 
and Mr, Wesley from Germany, they found 
things in this flourishing state. The church of 
God in Fetter-lane continued to grow in num- 
ber and grace almost beyond all former pre- 
cedent; and letters of thanks, or of petition, 
were daily received from those who had found, 
or were eagerly seeking, the pearl of great price. 
Those who could not write themselves (this was 
a very numerous class), got their friends to do 
it for them ; and with one consent, the believers 
and the penitents were looking for the great sal- 
vation. Please to take the following as a speci- 
men of what was at that time going forward 
among the faithful — 

At a love-feast in Fetter-lane, " About three 
in the morning," says Mr. Wesley, " as we were 
continuing instant in prayer, the power of God 
came mightily upon us, insomuch that many 
cried out for exceeding joy, and many fell to 
the ground. As soon as we were recovered a 
little from that awe and amazement at the pre- 
sence of his majesty, we broke out with one 
voice — IV t praise thee, God! we acknowledge 
ihee to be the Lord /" After this specimen, and 
I do assure you it is one of the most favourable 
I could have given you, you will not be sur- 
4 



SPECIMENS. 99 

prised that many of the churches should have 
been shut against the Wesley s, which indeed 
now began to be very generally the case. 1 
cannot avoid, Madam, presenting you with ano- 
ther specimen or two of methodistical raptures, 
which I have just met with in one of the books 
sold by the Methodists at their own preaching- 
houses, and therefore may be relied upon as 
authentic. They form, says the Editor, part of 
nearly three thousand quarto MS pages, written 
by a Miss Roe, of Macclesfield. 

" I was so happy in the night," says Miss 
Roe, ' f that I had very little sleep, and awoke 
with these words — ' The temple of indwelling 
God !' My soul sunk into depths of nothing- 
ness, and enjoys closer union with him this day 
than ever before. Every moment I feel such a 
weight of love, as almost overpowers the facul- 
ties of nature ! I know I could bear no more 
and live; but I often feel ready to cry, O, give 
me more, and let me die \" 

" At preaching this morning, I was so over- 
come with the love and presence, and exceeding 
glory of my Triune God, that I sunk down, 
unable to support it ! I was long before I 
could stand or speak ! All this day I have 
been lost in depths unutterable. At the love- 
feast, I was again overwhelmed with his imme- 
diate presence ! All around me is God I" 



100 SPECIMENS, 

Again — " As I came from meeting, I was so 
overpowered with tlie presence of God, that 
had not a friend supported me, I could not 
have walked home ! I was lost in depths of 
love, and admitted, as it were, into the imme- 
diate presence of my Lord's glory 1 Yet, I can- 
not explain it — for I saw no manner of simili- 
tude." 

Again— " At the prayer-meeting, my body 
was quite overcome for half an hour together; 
so did my Lord unfold his fulness to my ra- 
vished soul, I seemed as in the presence of his 
glory, confounded, and overwhelmed with a 
sense of his purity, his justice, his grace, and 
love ! and was constrained to lie at his feet, in 
speechless adoration and humblest praise — while 
my body was covered with a cold sweat, and all 
around thought I was dying !" 

Excuse, Madam, another specimen, and 
I will have done for the present — " Mr. P. 
preached from, c The grace of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship 
of the Holy Ghost, be with you!' Before he 
had spoken ten minutes, I was filled with the 
Triage God, and sunk motionless, under an ex- 
ceeding great weight of love ! My outward 
senses were locked up ; but my spirit seemed 
surrounded with glory inexpressible ! I beheld 
Jesus, and was, as it were, overshadowed, and 
weighed dovvn by the presence, and exceeding 



MR. V.'. VISITS BRISTOL. 101 



glory of the whole Deity! I knew not where 
I was, or whether in the body ! But all was un- 
utterable bliss and glory ! After I came to mv- 
self, I continued full of the divine presence, 
and a weight of love, such as enfeebled my 
whole frame. For many days and nights, I 
could eat little; and had seldom more than one 
hour's sleep in twenty-four !" 

Mrs. N knew this young lady, and can 

remember her coming often to her father's, to 
hold meetings with those after her own heart. 
She was the daughter of a respectable clergyman, 
and was as exemplary in her life as enthusiastic 
cal in her religion. 

You will excuse the above extracts being in- 
serted a little out of the chronological order of 
my history. I make them to let you see the 
manner in which the doctrines of the Method- 
ists do sometimes operate on the human mind. 

In the spring of 1739, Mr. Whitefield went 
down to Bristol, and there began to preach to 
incredible numbers of people. Mr. Wesley con- 
tinued his labours in London and Oxford alter- 
nately. The latter end of March he received a 
letter from Mr. Whitefield, who entreated him 
in the most pressing manner to come to Bristol, 
that he might step into the new path which 
now lay open before him. After some hesita- 
tion, lie consented to yield to Mr. Whitefield's 
solicitations, notwithstanding the remonstrances 



102 MR. W. VISITS BRISTOL. 

of his brother Charles, and others, to the con- 
trary. It was a rule of the society, " that any 
person who desired, or designed, to take a jour- 
ney, should first, if it were possible, have the 
approbation of the bands." " So entirely," ex- 
claims Dr. Whitehead, " were the ministers, at 
this time, under the direction of the people I" 
On the 20th, the matter was laid before them, 
and after some deliberation, they determined 
that he shuuld comply with Mr. Whitefield's re- 
quest. He left London the next day, and on 
the 31st reached Bristol. 



I am, &c, 



103 



LETTER XIII. 



u A Shaking among the dry Bones" — Dialogue 
between Mr. IV. and the Bp. of Bristol. 



DEAR MADAM, 

Mr. Whitefield having left Bristol, Mr. Wes- 
ley began to expound, to a small society, meet- 
ing in Nicholas-street, the sermon on the mount. 
On " Monday, April 2," says he, " I submitted 
to be more vile, and proclaimed in the highways 
the glad tidings of salvation, speaking from a 
little eminence in a ground adjoining to the 
city, to about three thousand people." 

This preaching was attended with extraordi- 
nary success ; and many societies were soon 
formed on a plan similar to those in London. 

Mr. Wesley's labours through the week were 
divided in the following order : — Every morn- 
ing he read prayers and preached at Newgate. 
Every evening he expounded at one or more of 



104 A SHAKING AMONG 

the societies. On Monday, in the afternoon, he 
preached abroad near Bristol. On Tuesday, at 
Bath and Two- mile-hill alternately. On Wed- 
nesday, at Baptist-mills. Every other Thurs- 
day, near Pensford. Every other Friday, in 
another part of Kingswood. On Saturday in the 
afternoon, and Sunday morning, in the Bowl- 
ing-green. On Sunday, at eleven, near Han- 
nam -mount ; at two, at Clifton; at five, at 
Bow-green. All this labour of mind and body 
could not but become visible in its effects ; and 
as Mr. Wesley's discourses were of the most ur- 
gent and searching nature, those effects were, 
perhaps, such as the world never heard of or saw 
before. To give a statement of these facts 
will, I fear, seem to have been clone with an 
intention to throw ridicule upon the persons 
concerned ; and a desire of bringing the Me- 
thodists into contempt; than which nothing is 
farther from my wishes. Impartiality, however, 
demands, that I give some account of the 
visible effects of Mr. Whitefield's and Mr. Wes- 
ley's preaching at Bristol, and other places. In 
my last, I gave you one or two specimens of 
these things : take the following as the complete 
climax of enthusiasm — the marvellous effects of 
the power of imagination when exercised on 
the awful subjects of religion, 

" Under the sermon, some persons trembled 
from head to foot : others fell down, and cried 



THE DRY BONES. 105 

out with a loud and bitter cry ; whilst others 
became speechless, and seemed convulsed as if 
in the agonies of death. After prayer for them, 
many rose up rejoicing in God, and testifying 
they had redemption through the blood of 
Christ, even the forgiveness of sins, according to 
the riches of his grace. Some afterwards said, 
they had a strong representation of Christ to 
their mind at that time; that it seemed like a 
a vision of him, evidently set forth crucified among 
them : and that moment they were enabled to 
believe on him. Others pretended they had a 
similar representation of him in a dream, and 
through faith received the remission of sins.'' — 
V A woman suddenly cried out, as in the ago- 
nies of death, and continued to do so for some 
time, with all the signs of the sharpest anguish. 
One felt as it were the piercing of a sword, and 
could not avoid crying out even in the street. 
Two others were constrained to roar, as seized 
with great pain ; another as out of the belly of 
hell. A young man, suddenly seized with vio- 
lent trembling all over, sunk down to the 
ground. One, and another, and another, sunk 
to the earth. They dropped on every side as 
thunderstruck. One was so wounded with the 
sword of the Spirit, that you would have ima- 
gined she could not live a moment. A woman 
broke out into strong cries, great drops of sweat 
ran down her face, and all her bones shook. A 



106 A SHAKING AMONG 

Quaker dropped down as thunderstruck, in an 
agony terrible to behold. Another person 
reeled four or five steps, and then dropped down. 
One fallen raving mad, changed colour, fell off 
his chair, screamed terribly, beat himself against 
the ground, his breast heaving as in the pangs 
of death, roaring out, ' O thou devil ! legions 
of devils !' &c. Three persons, almost at once, 
sunk down as dead A little boy was seized in 
the same manner ; a young man, fixing his eyes 
upon him, sunk himself down as one dead, 
and beat himself against the ground ; six men 
could scarce hold him. Others began to cry 
out, insomuch that all the house (and indeed all 
the street for some space) was in an uproar. 
Some were so torn with convulsive motion, in 
every part of their bodies, that four or five per- 
sons could not hold one of them. While I was 
speaking, one dropped down as dead ; presently 
a second, and a third. Five others sunk down, 
most of them in violent agonies, in the pains of 
hell and snares of death ; one an hour in strong- 
pain ; one or two more, for three days." 

This, and an immense quantity of the like 
matter, is to be found in the journals of Messrs. 
Wesley and Whitefielcl ; and such, Madam, are 
the materials on which the historian of Me- 
thodism is doomed to work. 

You will doubtless ask, And did Mr. Wesley 
actually encourage this enthusiasm ? Not, I am 



THE DRY BOXES. 107 

happy to say it, in every instance: he would 
often exclaim against it in terms of just severity. 
Mr. Wesley was, however, sometimes too credu- 
lous concerning these extravagances, as appears 
by the following shocking relation. This was 
of a young woman, about nineteen years of age, 
that could neither read nor write. She was held 
in bed by two or three persons, with anguish, 
horror, and despair, above description, in her 
pale face. " A thousand distortions," says Mr. 
Wesley, M shewed how the dogs of hell were 
gnawing her heart. She shrieked, and screamed 
out, ' I am damned ! damned ! Six days ago, 
you might have helped me. But now it is all 
past. 1 am the devil's now : I have given my- 
self to him. His I am. Him I must serve. 
With him I must go to hell. I will be his. I 
will serve him. I will go with him to hell. I 
cannot, I will not be saved. I must. I will, I 
will be damned V She then began,'' continues 
Mr. Wesley, " praying to the devil. JFe be- 



gan, 



' Arm of the Lord, awake, awake V 



"She immediately sunk down as asleep; but, as 
soon as we left off, broke out with inexpressible 
vehemence. ' Strong hearts* break ! I am a warn- 
ing to you. You need not be damned, though I 
must.' She then fixed her eyes on a corner of 
the ceiling, and said, ' There he is ! Aye, there 



108 A SHAKING A3IOXG 

lie is ! Come, good devil ! Come, take me away. 
You said you would dash my brains out. Come,, 
do it quickly. I am your's, I will be yours. 
Come, just now, take me away. ' We interrupted 
her by calling again upon God. We continued 
in prayer till past eleven ; when God, in a mo- 
ment, spake peace to her soul !" 

I feel some apology to be necessary, Madam, 
for these intrusions on your feelings by the re- 
lation of such shocking and abominable scenes. 
I have done- — and most gladly turn to a more 
pleasing part of the subject. 

It must be allowed, that, notwithstanding all 
these horrid extravagances of raptures and de- 
spair, much real good was done. Multitudes 
of the vilest and most reprobate wretches were 
brought from a state bordering upon downright 
barbarism, to become sober, steady, useful mem- 
bers of society ; the comfort of their families 
and friends — the praise and admiration of the 
wise and the good — the distinguished orna- 
ments of religion and virtue. These instances 
operated in the most powerful manner on the 
mind of Mr. Wesley. His grand object was to 
do o'ood to the bodies and souls of his fellow- 
creatures ; whenever this was in any degree ac- 
complished, he rejoiced greatly ; and to forward 
so good a purpose, he made many painful sacri- 
fices. He most assuredly possessed, in a very 
high degree, the charity that belie veth all things; 



THE DRY BONES. 109 

but Iiis credulity did himself and his cause much 
injury. 

Dr. Priestley, in his Collection of Letters, has 
furnished the world with an interesting corres- 
pondence on these subjects between Mr. John 
Wesley and his brother Samuel. The last that 
appears was by Samuel, and is in substance as 
follows — 

"You yourself doubted, at first, and inquired, 
and examined about the ecstacies ; the matter, 
therefore, is not so plain as motion to a man 
walking. But I have. my own reason, as well as 
your own authority, against the exceeding clear- 
ness of divine interposition there. Your fol- 
lowers fall into agonies. I confess it. They 
are freed from them, after you have prayed over 
them. Granted. They say it is God's doing. 
I own they say so. Dear brother, where is your 
ocular demonstration? Where, indeed, the ra- 
tional proof ? Their living well afterwards may 
be a probable and sufficient argument that they 
believe themselves ; but it goes no further." 

These are sensible and rational arguments ; but 
they had not, alas ! sufficient weight with Mr. J e 
Wesley, as far as relates to dreams, visions, and 
agitations ; for, some years after this period, 
Mr. Wesley expressed his opinion more fully 
concerning those agitations, &c. which attended 
the conviction of sin under his sermons this 
summer at Bristol. He supposes, it is easy to 



110 DIALOGUE BETWEEN MR. W. 

account for them either on principles of reason 
or scripture. 

" First," says he, " on principles of reason. 
For how easy it is to suppose that a strong, 
lively, and sudden apprehension of the heinous- 
ness of sin, the wrath of God, and the bitter 
pains of eternal death, should affect the body 
as well as the soul, during the present laws of 
vital union ; should interrupt or disturb the or- 
dinary circulation, and put nature out of its 
course. Yea, we may question whether, while 
this union subsists, it be possible for the mind 
to be affected in so violent a degree, without some 
or other of those bodily symptoms following. 

" It is likewise easy to account for these 
things on principles of scripture. For when 
we take a view of them in this light, we are to 
add to the consideration of natural causes, the 
agency of those spirits who still excel in strength, 
and as far as they have leave from God, will 
not fail to torment whom they cannot destroy; 
to tear those that are coming to Christ. It is al- 
so remarkable, that there is plain scripture pre- 
cedent of every symptom which has lately ap- 
peared. So tli at we cannot allow even the 
conviction attended with these to bs madness, 
without giving up both reason and scripture." 

The following conversation, which Mr. Wes- 
ley had about this time with the Bishop of Bris- 



AND TEE BP. OF BRISTOL. Ill 

tol, will afford you a specimen of his mode of 
defence; and will at the same time exhihit a 
strong trait in his character. The subject of 
this conversation was justification by faith alone 
— a doctrine which Mr. Wesley had been taught 
chiefly by his Moravian brethren, and which he 
defended with success during the whole of his 
subsequent life. 

Bishop. — " Why, Sir, our faith itself is a 
good work ; it is a virtuous temper of mind. 

Wesley. — " My Lord, whatever faith is, our 
church asserts, we are justified by faith alone. 
But how it can be called a good work, I see not : 
it is the gift of God ; and a gift that presupposes 
nothing in us but sin and misery. 

B. — " How, Sir ! Then you make God a 
tyrannical being, if he justifies some without 
any goodness in them preceding, and does not 
justify all. If these are not justified on account 
of some moral goodness in them, why are not 
those justified too ? 

W. — " Because, my Lord, they resist his 
spirit ; because they will not come to him that 
they may have life ; because they suffer him not 
to work in them both to will and to do. They 
cannot be saved, because they will not be- 
lieve. 

B. — " Sir, what do you mean by faith ? 
TV. — " My Lord, by justifying faith, I mean, 
a conviction wrought in a man by the Holy 



1 12 DIALOGUE BETWEEN MR. W. 

Ghost, that Christ hath loved him, and given 
himself for him, and that through Christ his sins 
are forgiven. 

B. — "I believe some good men have this, 
but not all. But how do you prove this to be 
the justifying faith taught by our church ? 

IV. — " My Lord, from her homily on salva- 
tion, where she describes it thus : ' A sure trust 
and confidence which a man hath in God, that 
through the merits of Christ his sins are for- 
given, and he reconciled to the favour of 
God; 

_B. — tc Why, Sir, this is quite another thing. 

W. — '* My Lord, I conceive it to be the very 
same. 

jB. — " Mr. Wesley, I will deal plainly with 
you. I once thought you and Mr. Whitefield 
well-meaning men ; but I cannot think so now T . 
For I have heard more of you : matters of fact, 
Sir. And Mi*. Whitefield says, in his Journal, 
* There are promises still to be fulfilled in me/ 
Sir, pretending to extraordinary revelations, and 
gifts of the Holy Ghost, is a horrid tiling, a very 
horrid thing ! 

W. — "• My Lord, for what Mr. Whitefield says, 
Mr. Whitefield, and not I, is accountable. I 
pretend to no extraordinary revelations, or gifts 
of the Lloly Ghost : none but what every Chris- 
tian may receive, and ought to expect and pray 
for. But I do not wonder your Lordship has 



AND THE BP. OF BRISTOL. 113 

heard facts asserted, which, if true, would prove 
the contrary : nor do I wonder that your Lord- 
ship, believing them true, should alter the opi- 
nion you once had of me. A quarter of an hour 
I spent with your Lordship before, and about 
an hour now : and perhaps you have never con- 
versed one other with any one who spake in my 
favour. But how many with those who spake 
on the other side ! so that your Lordship could 
not but think as you do. . But pray, my Lord, 
what are those facts you have heard ? 

B. — " I hear you administer the sacrament in 
your societies. 

IV. — " My Lord, I never did yet, and I be- 
lieve never shall. 

B. — " I hear, too, many people fall into fits 
in your societies, and that you pray over them. 
TV.-—" I do so, my Lord; when any shew, by 
strong cries and tears, that their soul is in deep 
anguish, I frequently pray to God to deliver 
them from it; and our prayer is often heard in 
that hour. 

B. — (i Very extraordinary, indeed ! Well, 
Sir, since you ask my advice, I will give it you 
very freely. You have no business here. You 
ore not commissioned to preach in this diocese. 
Therefore I advise vou to go hence. 

If '.- — £S My Lord, my business on earth is to 
do what good I can. Wherever, therefore, I 
think I can do most good, there must I stay, so 

i 



4l£ DIALOGUE, &C. 



long as I think so. At present I think I can do 
most good here : therefore here I stay. 

ie As to my preaching here, a dispensation of 
the gospel is committed to me, and woe is me if 
I preach not the gospel, wherever I am in the 
habitahle world. Your Lordship knows, being or- 
dained a priest, by the commission I then receiv- 
ed, I am a priest of the church universal ; and 
being ordained as Fellow of a College, I was 
not limited to any particular cure, but have an 
indeterminate commission to preach the word of 
God in any part of the church of England. I 
do not therefore conceive, that in preaching here 
by this commission, I break any human law. 
When I am convinced I do, then it will be time 
to ask, ' Shall I obey God or man ?' But if I 
should be convinced in the meanwhile, that I 
could advance the glory of God, and the salva- 
tion of souls, in any other place more than in 
Bristol, in that hour, by God's help, I will go 
hence ; which till then I may not do." 



I am, Sec 



.115 



LETTER XIV. 



Fightings without, and Tears within. 



DEAR MADAM, 

The subject of my last epistle will naturally pro- 
duce some degree of anticipation concerning 
the leading features of this. The irregularity of 
Mr. Wesley's proceedings ; his forming religi- 
ous societies not immediately under the direc- 
tion of the bishops, nor governed by the canons 
of the established church ; his frequent practice 
of field-preaching; and, particularly, the en- 
couragement which he now gave to lay-preachers 
— were thought sufficient causes of alarm and 
discontent to the careless and the more regular 
part of his brother clergymen. The spirit of 
opposition was consequently excited in the 
minds of all those who either did not under- 
stand, or did not approve, the doctrines and 
practices of the infant sect. Most of the 

i2 



116 FIGHTINGS WITHOUT, 

churches were shut against the Wesleys. Every 
thing that reason or railing could effect was em- 
ployed to crush the new faith. The sober part 
of the clergy lamented, and laboured to check, 
the rising spirit of enthusiasm ; while the lethar- 
gic and the vicious employed the base arts of 
persecution and misrepresentation, to stifle that 
disposition to inquiry which now began so much 
to prevail among the people. 

Nor was opposition from the enemies of Me- 
thodism among its greatest troubles : whilst the 
societies had fightings without, they were har- 
assed by fears within; and although they in- 
creased in number daily, yet did intestine bick- 
erings and misunderstandings begin almost to 
threaten their existence. 

Some of the Fetter- lane brethren embraced 
the notion, that any Christian might preach and 
administer the sacraments ; and that, in fact* 
Christianity knew nothing of any distinctive 
order of men, as spiritual church-officers. These 
began to trouble the brethren with their specu- 
lations, and to disturb their meetings by un- 
seasonable intrusions. The Wesleys, it may 
well be supposed, set their face against so dan- 
gerous a heresy. Shaw, the leader of this fac- 
tion, although a layman, claimed a right to bap- 
tize, &c. and brought several of the members to 
his own views of the matter. This was early in 
the year 1739-. " I tried in vain," says Mr. 



AND FEA71S WITHIN. 1 17 

Charles Wesley, " to check Mr. Shaw in his 
wild, rambling talk against a Christian priest- 
hood. At last, I told him I would oppose him 
to the utmost, and either he or I must quit the 
society. In expounding, I warned them strongly 
against schism, into which Mr. Shaw's notion* 
must necessarily lead them." " I found Mr. 
Stonehouse exactly right (in his notions on the 
priesthood), and warned Mrs. Vaughan and 
Brookmans against Shaw's pestilent errors.'-— 
You see, Madam, even the ladies took an active 
part in the disputes at Fetter-lane. 

This notion of Shaw's found its way to Ox 
ford, where it soon produced " dismal effects." 
Whether those effects were seen to operate on the 
Oxonian priests, as threatening their craft; or 
whether their dismal tendency was to unsettle 
the minds of the lay-brethren, it does not ex- 
actly appear. I should suppose, however, that 
the innovations of Shaw must have been felt both 
jn one instance and the other ; for it was soon 
found necessary to insist upon his expulsion from 
the society. 

Those who had embraced the opinions of 
Shaw, declared their dissent from the church 
of England. ■" Now/' says Mr. Charles Wesley, 
" am I clear of them : by renouncing the church 
they have discharged me." 

But the internal commotions in the metho- 
distical church did not end here : one Bowers, 



US FIGHTINGS WITHOUT, 

an enthusiastic zealot, gave much offence, by 
preaching in the streets of Oxford, &c. and 
thereby occasioned no small uneasiness to those 
of the society who had not as yet sufficiently 
imbibed the spirit of prosely tism. 

But, which was productive of greater disturb- 
ance still, the French prophets made several pro- 
selytes, who warmly defended their disgraceful 
wildness in the society. Mr. Charles Wesley 
had already been witness to the enthusiasm of 
one of these fanatics, and had imbibed a great 
dislike to their spirit and proceedings. Taking 
up his lodgings one night with a Mr. Hollis, at 
Wickham, he entertained him with his French 
prophets, " who," adds Mr. Wesley, " in his ac- 
count, are equal, if not superior, to the prophets 
of the Old Testament. While we were undress- 
ing, he fell into violent agitations, and gabbled 
like a turkey-cock. I was frightened, and be- 
gan exorcising him with, ' Thou deaf and dumb 
devil,' &c. He soon recovered from his fit of 
inspiration. I prayed, and went to bed, not 
half liking my bed-fellow ; nor did I sleep very 
sound, with Satan so near me." I am here re- 
minded of an anecdote I had from a Quaker some 
years ago. 

A zealous Calvinist, and a sober Quaker hap- 
pened to put up at an inn, where the accommo- 
dations were so scanty, as to render it necessary 
for them to sleep together in the same bed. The 



A^t> FEAiiS WITHIN. 1)9 

friend undressed, and, according to the cus- 
tom of his religion, sans certmonie got into 
bed. The Calvinist thought it requisite to pay 
his evening devotions in an audible manner. 
He accordingly knelt by the bed-side ; and, to 
humble himself in a suitable degree, run over a 
list of transgressions, of which, had he been 
really guilty, would have constituted him not 
only a grievous sinner before heaven^ but a very 
dangerous bed-fellow for the Quaker. After lie 
had finished writing bitter things against himself, 
he put down the clothes, in order to get into 
bed ; upon which the honest Quaker, who had 
listened with horror and astonishment to the 
black catalogue of his companion's iniquities of 
heart and practice, rose up, exclaiming, " Nay, 
friend, if thou art but one half as bad as thou 
representest thyself to be, I will not on any ac- 
count sleep in the same bed with thee S" Mr. 
Wesley, however, had more courage than our 
Quaker; and he slept all night without receiv- 
ing any harm from his enthusiastical bed-fellow. 
Another great source of discontent in the so- 
ciety, arose from the prevailing untractableness 
of the Moravian brethren. These were numer- 
ous, and were indeed the principal heads of the 
newly planted church of Fetter lane. They 
introduced several disputes into the society, 
about the degrees of faith, and the obligations 
of Christians to be still; and not to mind the 



120 FIGHTINGS WITHOUT, 

outward means of grace, lest they should be 
tempted to trust in them. 

The Wesleys were now no longer babes in 
Christ : They were young men— nay, fathers ; 
and needed no more to be fed with the milk of 
the word ; for they were themselves feeding 
others with strong meat. Although they acted in 
a manner becoming the most zealous dissenters, 
yet were they still attached to the ritual of the 
church of England ; and every attempt to dis- 
pense with the observance of any of her ordi- 
nances, or the belief of what they conceived to 
be her most distinguishable and glorious doc- 
trines, was attended with very great pain to 
their minds ; and was followed by a steady re- 
solution to prevent, as much as in them lay, 
any avowed dissent from a church whose glory 
and happiness they conceived themselves raised 
up by the Almighty to promote and vindicate. 
They therefore withstood, with becoming zeal 
and fortitude, the innovations of Peter Bolder, 
who, with a Mr. Molther, and some others, 
seemed determined to controvert the doctrines, 
and oppose the practices, of the two Wesleys, 
and those who still adhered to the establish- 
ment. These disputes were conducted with 
considerable warmth on both sides ; and finally 
produced a separation of some of the Methodists 
and Moravians, 



,AXD FEARS WITHIN". 121 

Mr. Wesley, seeing the impossibility of bring- 
ing these disputes to a favourable issue, put an 
end to them in his societies, by reading the fol- 
lowing paper, and taking a formal leave of the 
Moravians. 

" About nine months ago, certain of you be- 
gan to speak contrary to the doctrine we had 
till then received, The sum of what you as- 
serted is this : 1. That there is no such thing as 
weak faith : that there is no justifying faith, 
where there is ever any doubt or fear ; or where 
there is not, in the full sense, a new, a clean 
heart. 2. That a man ought not to use those 
ordinances of God, which our church terms 
means of grace, before he has such a faith as ex- 
cludes all doubt and fear, and implies a new, a 
clean heart. 3. You have often affirmed, that 
to search the scriptures, to pra}', to communi- 
cate, before we have this faith, is to seek salva- 
tion by works ; and till these works are laid aside, 
no man can receive faith. 

" I believe these assertions to be flatly con- 
trary to the word of God. I have warned you 
hereof again and again, and besought you to 
turn back to the law and to the testimony. I 
have borne with you long, hoping you would 
turn : but as I find you more and more confirm- 
ed in the error of your ways, nothing now re- 
mains, but that I should give you up to God 
You that are of the same judgment, follow me,'* 



122 FIGHTIXGS WITHOUT, 

— " I then," adds Mr. Wesley, "without saying 
any thing more, withdrew, as did eighteen or 
nineteen of the society." Thus terminated a 
connexion, which had hegim in the most ardent, 
and apparently the most disinterested, esteem 
and affection ; but which was followed by much 
bitter railing and foul-mouthed calumny. 

Mr. Wesley, it seems, had anticipated this 
event ; for, several months previous to its tak- 
ing place, he, without consulting the society 
in Fetter-lane, the majority of which were alien- 
ated from him, had taken the building which 
had been formerly used as the King's foundry 
for cannon. Here he had often preached to 
crowded audiences, and to this place he trans- 
planted the church of the Methodists, wdiich 
now became more than ever under his spiritual 
superintendence and support. 

Another cause of complaint to the societies, 
originated in the unstable conduct and dubious 
morals of some of the members. When the first 
heats of inflamed passion had cooled; when the 
exuberance of spiritual affection had abated, 
and the effervescence of love or terror was re* 
moved, they returned, like the sow that was 
washed to her wallowing in the mire. Instances 
of this kind were but too numerous, and caused 
the enemies of Methodism to blaspheme. It 
therefore required the most prompt and decisive 
measures to be pursued, to stem the torrent of 

1 



AND FEARS "WITHIN. J23 

so dreadful a flood ; and to prevent that devas* 
tation and havoc which any known immora- 
lity in the members would infallibly bring upon 
the whole society. Proper measures were ac- 
cordingly resorted to : and the eno-ines of terror, 
or the mild allurements of persuasion, brought 
back the straggling sheep ; or dro e farther from 
the fold the detested wolves, which had alarmed 
the shepherds, and devoured the tender lambs of 
the flock. 

Those disputes which in former times have so 
successfully preyed upon the vitals of the church 
— which have overturned states, depopulated 
villages, and blasted the happiness of thousands, 
were now besjinninff to infuse their baneful in- 
fluence into the infant churches of the Method- 
ists : I mean, Madam, the long-contested con- 
troversy about unconditional election, eternal 
reprobation, irresistible grace, and the persever- 
ance of the saints. As yet, however, these con- 
troversies had not done much injury to our so- 
cieties ; but they now begun to portend future 
calamities and disturbances. 

This, Madam, has been altogether a most dis- 
couraging and unpromising epistle; yet be not 
alarmed for our Methodists ; though the enemy- 
has been busy sowing his tares in different parts, 
yet has the work of conversion been all the 
time going on with rapidity. Mr T? " ! 

has paid another visit to America where ... 



124 FIGHTINGS WITHOUT, &C. 

doctrines are rapidly gaining ground. Mr, 
John Wesley has sown the seeds of the gospel 
in Wales ; where the fields were already white 
unto the harvest, and where a most plentiful 
crop may be expected. The heathen at Kings- 
wood, near Bristol, I mean the poor, ignorant, 
wicked colliers, have heard the glad sound of 
the truth; and light, and life, and love, and joy, 
beam on their countenances ; while the song of 
praise is heard from those lips which had hardly 
ever before been opened but in blasphemies and 
execrations. 



I am, &c. 



125 



LETTER XV. 



Methodism extends itself over various Parts of 



the Kingdom. 



Roused by opposition, and encouraged by suc- 
cess, tbe Wesleyan Christians continued to ex- 
tend their influence, and spread their name, over 
various parts of the kingdom. In London, the 
brethren found encouragement commensurate, 
one would have thought, with their most san- 
guine wishes. Agitations, dreams, and super- 
natural illuminations, increased among the saints, 
and still gave some little offence to the more 
sober and prudent; and although these might, 
in some instances, operate unfavourably, yet 
did the number of Methodists increase in almost 
every part of the town ; and young persons, 
chiefly, I believe, servant maids, flocked in 



126 FARTHER SPREAt* 

crowds to Mr. Wesley, for information or en- 
couragement in the duties and difficulties of. 
their new character. Mr. Wesley travelled much ' T 
his lack of service in town was, therefore, sup- 
plied by the zeal of his colleagues, and the flock 
in London was never without some one to feed 
them with the food of the gospel. When cases 
of extraordinary difficulty occurred, recourse 
was always had, by letter, or by special messen- 
ger, to Mr. John Wesley himself, in whatever 
part of the kingdom he might happen to be at 
the time. 

The practice of field-preaching was now be- 
come pretty common. At Moorfields, Ken- 
nington- common, and other places in the vici- 
nity of London, thousands, and tens of thou- 
sands flocked to the ministrations of the Wes- 
leys and their lay-helpers. All restraints of de- 
licacv towards the establishment were fast di- 
minlshing ; and the opposition of the regular 
clergy was, in a great measure, overpowered by 
the zeal, or removed by the virtue, of the new 
reformers. The judgments of men, concerning 
the work of Methodism, were directed by the 
warmth of their passions, by the evidence of 
their senses, or by the strength of their reason. 
The humane and the pious, moved with com- 
passion towards the misery of the penitents, or 
astonished at the ecstacies of the converts, se- 
cretly encouraged what they conceived to be so 



OF METHODISM. - 127 

o'ood a work. The gazing multitude beheld 
with wonder the effects of Methodism, and for- 
warded the cause by rioting and conversion, 
The sober and the rational, regarding the whole 
as originating in the ebullitions of a heated ima- 
gination, and as affecting the people only from 
the novelty of the scene, quietly looked on the 
whole business as one of the passing occurrences 
of the day, which would shortly be superseded 
by something else more novel and more at- 
tractive. It was the poor to "whom the gospel 
was preached, and they received the word with 
gladness. 

Mr. Whitefield opened the way to Bristol, 
which became a kind of nursery for Method- 
ism. He levied contributions on his friends for 
a methodistical school, and alms-house at 
Kingswood. He did more; he frightened the 
poor ignorant colliers of that place, with the 
most awful denunciations of divine vengeance, 
and then allured them to peace and sobriety, by 
promises of pardon here, and of " palms, thrones, 
rivers of pleasure, trees of life, and the soft me- 
lody of golden harps, to ravish their souls, and 
lull them to eternal rest, in another and a bet- 
ter world 1" 

When Mr. Whitefield left Bristol and Kings- 
wood, Mr. John Wesley went over to water the- 
good seed of eternal life in the hearts of the poor 
colliers. With less of the terrors of the law, and 



128 FARTHER SPREAD 

perhaps too with less of the raptures of the gos* 
pel, he promoted the civilization of the bar- 
barian inhabitants of Kingswood, reduced them 
to order, and weaned them by degrees from ha- 
bits of profaneness and drunkenness, to those of 
religion and virtue. 

Of the rooted ignorance and barbarity of the 
Kingswood colliers, you may form some idea. 
Madam, from the following circumstance, which 
was told me by a gentleman, who has been a 
travelling preacher more than thirty years, and 
has often witnessed the fact himself. So much 
addicted were these colliers to cursing and 
swearing, in their ordinary conversation, that, 
even after their conversion, when they had just 
returned from a religious meeting, they would 
sometimes exclaim, that they had " had a d — d 
sweet season !" Ibis most profound ignorance, 
and its shocking consequence, I should hope 
were, however, shortly removed by the instruc- 
tions of their spiritual guides, and the force of 
better habits. 

Mr. Charles Wesley, animated with the ac- 
counts he received of the state of affairs at Bris- 
tol and the neighbourhood, determined to share 
those good things with his brother John. Accord- 
ingly, on the 28th of August, 173.9, he arrived at 
that city, and soon entered upon the work of the 
ministry with ardour and success. He contri- 
buted largely to the common stock of Method- 



OF METHODISM. 129 

ism. Many were converted by his exertions, both 
of the colliers at Kingswood, and of the sober 
town's people. 

On the 11 th September, he rode with two 
friends to Bradford, near Bath, and preached to 
about a thousand persons. On many of them 
his harangues had the most powerful effect. 
On the 25th, the Bradford congregation a- 
mounted to about two thousand hearers. I can- 
not help, Madam, presenting you with part of 
the experience of one of the Brad ford ian con- 
verts. This was one Sarah Pearce, who " re- 
ceived comfort," while listening to Mr. Wesley's 
explanation of the fifth chapter of the Romans. 
" I was extremely bigoted,' 1 says this good lady, 
" against my brethren the dissenters, but am 
now enlarged towards them and all mankind, 
in an inexpressible manner. I do not depend 
upon a start of comfort ; but find it increase 
ever since it began. I perceive a great change 
in myself; and expect a greater. I find a di- 
vine attraction in my soul to heavenly things. 
I was once so afraid of death that I durst not 
sleep ; but now I do not fear it at all. I de- 
sire nothing on earth; I fear nothing, but 
sin." 

I make no apology, Madam, for this short 
extract: I know you will be charmed with the 
experience of Sarah Pearce ; for in her was ac- 
complished all the law and the prophets. O ! 



130 FARTHER SPREAD 

ye Gardiuers ! ye Bonners ! of our clay — ye, 
whose zeal for religion is only discoverable 
when ye seek to persecute others, or when ye 
exclaim, concerning your own church, " The 
temple of the Lord ! the temple of the Lord ! 
the temple of the Lord, are we /" When ye talk 
of faith, and grace, and love, and joy, and hea- 
ven and hell, call to mind the experience of Sarah 
Pearce, and let your hearts, like her's, be en- 
larged towards ALL mankind ! 

And ye, too, poor, cold, frozen-hearted for^ 
malists ! and gloomy children of monkish super- 
stition ! ye who are dead while ye live ! who 
•see no beauty in holiness — find no pleasure, not 
even in treading the ways of pleasantness, nor per- 
ceive any comfort in the paths of peace ! — let 
your hearts be expanded with the generous be- 
nevolence of Sarah Pearce, and your joy shall 
abound ! O ! that all the Lord's people were as 
this poor woman ! 

Mr. Wesley's preaching at Bradford did not, 
however, always produce such pleasing effects ; 
or rather, the seed, being sometimes sown in 
stony ground, could not take deep and effectual 
root. The sons of bigotry — the children of in- 
tolerance — raised an idle report that he was a 
high Calvin ist ; which laid him under the ne- 
cessity of publicly declaring his opinion on this 
head. He did this in such a manner as caused 
him afterwards to say, that though the devil had 



OF METHODISM. 131 

been very busy attempting to hinder bis useful- 
ness, be believed that this arch fiend would 
<l no more slander him with being a predesti- 
narian/' It is evident, Madam, that so black a 
calumny could have proceeded from no other, 
than that slanderous old personage, who "goeth 
about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may 
devour !" 

About this time he preached in the open air, 
by night, in a yard belonging to a Widow Jones. 
He observes, " The yard contained about four 
hundred persons ; the house was likewise full. 
Great power was in the midst of us. Satan blas- 
phemed without, but durst not venture his child- 
ren too near the gospel, when I offered Jesus 
Christ to them. The enemy hurried them away, 
and all we could do was to pray for them." It 
is somewhat strange, that the prince of darkness 
should find himself aggrieved by an out-door 
preaching, in the night ; especially as he appears 
to hav^gfnanifested so much prudence in keep- 
ing his children at a becoming distance from 
the gospel. One would naturally have sup- 
posed, that the night was the most proper season 
he could have chosen for carrying on the works 
of darkness ; but, it seems, the devil himself is 
sometimes off his guard; though it must be 
owned, that, by his blaspheming without, he was 
not asleep at his post. 

k2 



132 FARTHER SPREAD 

In consequence of a pressing invitation, Mr. 
John Wesley visited the Principality. Though 
the churches were here also shut against him, 
yet were his zeal and perseverance repaid by the 
formation of several societies, and by the affec- 
tion of the Cambrian converts. " I have seen," 
says he, " no part of England so pleasant, for 
sixty or seventy miles together, as those parts of 
Wales I have been in : and most of the inhabi- 
tants are indeed ripe for the gospel. I mean, if 
the expression seems strange, they are earnestly 
desirous of being instructed in it : and as utterly 
ignorant of it they are, as any Creek or Chero- 
kee Indians." Mr. Wesley, having sown the 
seed in Wales, shortly after left it, for a season, 
to take root and fructify. 

The year 1/40 was spent in making new 
converts, and in adjusting differences, or fo- 
menting fresh causes of disagreement in the 
Fetter lane society. I purposely omit, in this 
place, entering into the disputes on predestina- 
tion, &c. which took place about this time, oc- 
casioned by a printed sermon of Mr. Wesley's 
against that doctrine. 

One Maxfield, who afterwards turned out an 
accuser of the brethren, and a violent opposer 
of the Wesleys, had begun to excite the atten- 
tion of several by his zeal and industry. Max- 
field was one of the first laymen that Mr. Wes* 



OF METHODISM. 133 

ley regularly employed as a preacher. Of this 
man., the late Countess Dowager of Hunting- 
don writes to Mr. Wesley as follows : " 1 never 
mentioned to you, that I have seen Maxfield. 
He is one of the greatest instances of God's pe- 
culiar favour, that I know. He has raised from 
the stones one to sit among the princes of his 
people. He is my astonishment. How is God's 
power shewn in weakness ! You can have no 
idea what an attachment 1 have to him. He is 
highly favoured of the Lord. The first time 
I made him expound, expecting little from him 
I sat over against him, and thought what a 
power of God must be with him, to make me 
give any attention to him. But before he had 
gone over one fifth part, any one that had seen 
me, would have thought I had been made of 
wood or stone, so quite immoveable I both 
felt and looked. His power in prayer is very 
extraordinary. To deal plainly, I could either 
talk or write for an hour about him." 

This man, whose expounding had such an 
astonishing effect on the mind and bodv of the 
pious Countess, in a few years, fell into the most 
violent extravagances about perfection, and fi- 
nally withdrew from the society, and took about 
two hundred of the members along with him. 
While he kept in any measure in his senses, he 
was of wonderful use to the Wesleys, and was 
instrumental of much good to the Methodists. 



134 SPREAD OF METHODISM. 

Daring the years 1741 and 1742, many so- 
cieties were formed in Somersetshire, Wiltshire, 
Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, 
and Nottinghamshire, as well as in the south- 
ern parts of Yorkshire. Those in London, 
Bristol, and Kings wood, were much increased. 
The brethren still met with opposition, some- 
times with persecution, from various quarters; 
but every new attempt to check the progress of 
Methodism, tended only to inflame the zeal, and 
increase the number, of its advocates. Persecu- 
tion was considered a certain badge of true 
discipleship • a genuine characteristic of godli- 
ness. He that will live godly in Christ Jesus must 
suffer persecution. Such being the advantages 
of persecution, it is not to be wondered at, that 
on some occasions the Methodists should count 
it ; that they should provoke it by unseasonable 
reproofs, and the imposition of useless austeri- 
ties. The blood of the martyrs had long before 
this been the seed of the church ; and though 
none of the Methodists had ever to glory in the 
crown of martyrdom, yet did they profit by the 
very measures which were taken to destroy them. 



I am, &c. 



135 



LETTER XVI. 



Formation of the Societies — General Rules— Di- 
rections given to the Bands — Schism. 



Although I have hitherto endeavoured not to 
be tediously minute in detailing the rise and 
progress of Methodism, we have already seen 
thousands made converts to the opinions and 
practices of the Wesleys, both in our own and 
in other countries ; for the preaching of White- 
field, and others, on the continent, was attend- 
ed with similar effects to that of their brethren 
on this side the water. It is, therefore, time 
you should become acquainted with the pro- 
gressive organization, and internal economy of 



the societies 



I have already laid before you the "■ Orders 
of the religious Society at Fetter-lane." In 



136 FORMATION OF THE SOCIETIES. 

consequence of the disputes with the Moravian 
brethren, you will remember I informed you, 
that Mr. Wesley, with his steady adherents, had 
removed to the Foundery. The Fetter-lane 
church was consequently soon swallowed up, or 
dispersed, by the growing influence of theWes- 
leyans. Those Orders, therefore, were no longer 
formally binding; on the societies. 

Numerous societies being now formed in va- 
rious parts of the kingdom, exactly on the same 
principles, it became requisite, for the better 
management of so large a body, and for the 
general consolidation of the whole connexion, 
to have some General Rules. Accordingly, the 
two brothers drew up a set of rules which 
should be observed by the members of all the 
societies throughout the nation. In the year 
1743, these rules were first published under the 
following title :— " The Nature, Design, and 
General Rules, of the United Societies in Lon- 
don, Bristol, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, &c. ; ' 
Permit me, Madam, to lay before you an exact 
copy of these Rules. 



GENERAL RULES. 137 



RULES OF THE SOCIETY. 



" I. IN the latter end of the year 1739, eight 
or ten persons came to me in London, who ap- 
peared to be deeply convinced of sin, and ear- 
nestly groaning for redemption. They desired 
(as did two or three more the next day), that 
I would spend some time with them in prayer, 
and advise them how to flee from the wrath to 
come, which they saw continually hanging over 
their heads. That we might have more time for 
this great work, I appointed a day when they 
might all come together; which, from thence- 
forward they did every week ; viz. on Thursday 
in the evening. To these, and as many more as 
desired to join with them (for their number in- 
creased daily), I gave those advices from time 
to time which I judged most needful for them ; 
and we always concluded our meeting with prayer 
suitable to their several necessities. 

"'II. This was the rise of the United So- 
ciety, first in London, and then in other places. 
Such a society is no other, than ' A company of 
men having the form, and seeking the power^ of 
godliness : united in order to pray together, to 



138 GENERAL RULES. 

receive the word of exhortation, and to watch 
over one another in love, that they may help 

each other to work out their salvation/ 

" III. That it may the more easily be discern- 
ed, whether they are indeed working out their 
own salvation, each society is divided into smal- 
ler companies, called Classes, according to their 
respective places of abode. There are about 
twelve persons in every class ; one of whom is 
styled the Leader. — It is his business, 

" 1st, To see each person in his class, once a 
week at least, in order 

" To inquire how their souls prosper; 

" To advise, reprove, comfort, or exhort, as 
occasion may require ; 

" To receive what they are willing to give, 
toward the support of the gospel. 

" Qd, To meet the minister and the stewards 
of the society once a week, in order 

u To inform the minister of any that are sick, 
or of any that walk disorderly, and will not be 
reproved ; 

" To pay to the stewards what they have re- 
ceived of their several classes in the week pre- 
ceding; and 

" To shew their account of what each perso* 
has contributed. 



GENERAL RULES. 139 

" IV. There is one only condition previously 
required of those who desire admission into 
these societies, viz. 'a desire to flee from the 
wrath to come, to be screed from their sins/ But 
wherever this is really fixed in the soul, it will be 
shewn by its fruits. It is therefore expected of 
all who continue therein, that they should con- 
tinue to evidence their desire of salvation, 

" 1st, By doing no harm, by avoiding evil in 
every kind : especially that which is most gener- 
ally practised. Such as, 

" The taking the name of God in vain: 
'•' The profaning the day of the Lord,, either 
by doing ordinary work thereon, or by buying 
or selling : 

"Drunkenness; buying or selling spirituous 
liquors; or drinking them, unless in cases of ex- 
treme necessity : 

" Fighting, quarrelling, brawling; brother go- 
ing to law with brother ; returning evil for evil, 
or railing for railing : the using many words in 
buying or selling : 

" The buying or selling uncustomed goods : 
" The giving or taking things on usury, i. e. 
unlawful interest: 

il Uncharitable or unprofitable conversation: 
particularly speaking evil of magistrates or of 
ministers: 



140 GENERAL RULES. 

" Doing to others as we would not they should 
do unto us : 

<s Doing what we know is not for the glory of 
God. As, 

" The putting on of gold or costly apparel : 

" The taking such diversions as cannot be used 
in the name of the Lord Jesus: 

" The singing those songs, or reading those 
books, that do not tend to the knowledge or love 
of God: 

" Softness, and needless self-indulgence: 

" Laying up treasure on earth : 

" Borrowing without a probability of paying : 
or taking up goods without a probability of pay- 
ing for them. 

" V. It is expected of all who continue in 
these societies, that they should continue to evi- 
dence their desire of salvation, 

" Qdly, By doing good, by being in every 
kind merciful after their power, as they have op- 
portunity : doing good of every possible sort> 
and as far as possible to all men ; 

" To their bodies, of the ability that God 
giveth, by giving food to the hungry, by cloth- 
ing the naked, by visiting or helping them that 
are sick, or in prison : 

€i To their souls, by instructing, reproving, or 



GENERAL RULES. 141 

exhorting all we have any intercourse with : 
trampling under foot that enthusiastic doctrine 
of devils, that, ' We are not to do good, unless 
our hearts be free to it.' 

ec By doing good especially to them that are 
of the household of faith, or groaning so to be : 
employing them preferably to others, buying 
one of another, helping each other in business : 
and so much the more, because the world will 
love its own, and them only. 

" By all possible diligence and frugality, that 
the gospel be not blamed. 

c< By running with patience the race that is 
set before them, denying themselves, and taking 
up their cross daily ; submitting to bear the re- 
proach of Christ ; to be as the filth and ofF- 
scouring of the world ; and looking that men 
should say all manner of evil of them falsely for 
the Lord's sake. 

<l VI. It is expected of all who desire to con- 
tinue in these societies, that they should con- 
tinue to evidence their desire of salvation, 

{i 3dly, By attending on all the ordinances of 
God : such are, 

" The public worship of God; 

" The ministry of the word, either read or ex- 
pounded; 

" The supper of the Lord ; 
4 



142 GENERAL RULES. 

" Family and private prayer; 
" Searching the scriptures ; and 
li Fasting or abstinence. 

" VII. These are the general rules of our so- 
cieties ; all which we are taught of God to ob- 
serve, even in his written word, the only rule, 
and the sufficient rule both of our faith and prac- 
tice. And all these we know his Spirit writes 
on every truly awakened heart. If there be any 
among us who observe them not, who habitually 
break any of them, let it be made known unto 
them, who watch over that soul, as they that 
must give an account. We w 7 ill admonish him 
of the error of his ways-: we will bear with him 
for a season. But then, if he repent not, he 
hath no more place among us. We have deliv- 
ered our own souls. 

" J. & C. Wesley/' 

May 1, 1743. 



To these very excellent Rules, the Conference 
have since made several important additions, 
some of which I shall copy, for your informa- 
tion, in a future epistle. 

With some requisite alterations in the phrase- 
ology of these regulations, they are, generally, 
deserving of being adopted by all societies of 
professing Christians ; and it is not the least that 



DIRECTIONS TO THE BANDS. 143 

may be said in their favour, that they enjoin no 
peculiarities of doctrine — no dissocializing qua- 
lity, arising from subscription to articles of 
faith, or modes of worship. Their general prin- 
ciples are founded on the broad, the permanent 
basis of rational Christianity and practical mo- 
rality. The same, however, cannot, in every 
instance, be said of the following " Directions 
given to the Band Societies/' which were drawn 
up the year after the publication of the General 
Rules. 



Directions given to the Band Societies. 

" You are supposed to have the faith that 
overcometh the world. To you, therefore, it is 
not grievous, 

" I. Carefully to abstain from doing evil: in 
particular, 

" 1. Neither to buy or sell any thing at all on 
the Lord's- day. 

" 2. To taste no spirituous liquor, ?io dram of 
any kind, unless prescribed by a physician. 

" 3. To be at a word both in buying and sel- 
ling. 

" 4. To pawn nothing, no not to save life. 

M 5. Not to mention the fault of any behind his 
lack, and to stop those short that do. 



144 DIRECTIONS TO THE BANDS. 

" 6. To wear no needless ornaments, such as 
rings, ear-rings, necklaces, lace, ruffles. 

" 7. To use no needless self-indulgence, such as 
taking snuff or tobacco, unless prescribed by a 
physician. 

" II. Zealously to maintain good works: in 
particular, 

" 1. To give alms of such things as you pos- 
sess, and that to the uttermost of your power. 

" 2. To reprove all that sin in your sight, and 
that in love, and meekness of wisdom. 

" 3. To be patterns of diligence and frugality \ 
of self-denial, and taking up the cross daily. 

" III. Constantly to attend on all the ordi- 
nances of God : in particular, 

" 1. To be at church, and at the Lord's table 
every week, and at every public meeting of the 
Bands. 

IC 2. To attend the ministry of the word every 
morning (this was always at five o'clock, winter 
and summer, in all kinds of weather), unless 
distance, business, or sickness prevent. 

" 3. To use private prayer every day, and fa- 
mily prayer, if you are the head of a family. 

" 4. To read the scriptures, and mecfitate 
therein, at every vacant hour. And, 

" 5. To observe, as days of fasting or absti- 
nence, all Fridays in the year." 



SCHISM. 145 

As far as my observations have extended, the 
Methodists of the present day do certainly ob- 
serve, with die greatest degree of exactness, the 
last of these general directions — that which en- 
joins them " constantly to attend all the ordi- 
nances of God. ,J 

Of the first direction, the second, third, 
fifth, sixth, and seventh clauses, are not, I 
believe, uniformly observed : yet I would not 
have it understood that the Methodists are 
more culpable in these respects than other pro- 
fessing Christians: the fifth, and perhaps the 
seventh, clause alone excepted ; in the breach 
of which they are certainly many of them 
shamefully guilty. The crime of scandal, I 
believe, is promoted by the very common prac- 
tice of neglecting to observe the admonition 
given in the latter of these clauses. 

The particular Rules by which the bands are 
governed, and the method of conducting the 
class and band meetings, I will give you in a 
future letter. 

The formation of these separate societies very 
naturally suggested some doubts in the mind of 
Mr. Wesley, whether by encouraging them he 
was not making a schism in the established 
church; whether in joining these people toge-* 

h 



146 SCHISM. 

ther he was not gathering churches out of 
churches. 

He soon satisfied himself, by the following 
mode of reasoning : — 

tc It is easily answered," says he, " if you 
mean only gathering people out of buildings 
called churches, it is. But if you mean, divid- 
ing Christians from Christians, and so destroy- 
ing fellowship, it is not. For, 1. These were not 
Christians before they were thus joined. Most 
of them were barefaced heathens. 2. Neither 
are they Christians from whom you suppose 
them to be divided. You will not look me in 
the face, and say they are. What ! drunken 
Christians? Cursing and swearing Christians ? 
Lying Christians ? Cheating Christians ? If 
these are Christians at all, they are Devil Chris- 
tians (as the poor Malabarians term them.) — 
3. Neither are they divided any more than they 
were before., even from these wretched Devil 
Christians. They are as ready as ever to assist 
them, and to perform every office of real kind- 
ness toward them. 4. If it be said, ' but there 
are some true Christians in the parish, and you 
destroy the Christian fellowship between these 
and them/ I answer, That which never existed 
cannot be destroyed. Which of those true 
Christians had any such fellowship with these? 
W T ho watched over them in love ? Who marked 



SCHISM. 14^ 

their growth in grace? Who advised and ex- 
horted them from time to time? Who prayed 
With them and for them as they had need ?-— - 
This, and this alone, is Christian fellowship: 
But, alas ! Where is it to be found? Look east 
or west, north or south : name what parish yoii 
please. 1^ this Christian fellowship there ?— * 
Rather are not the bulk of the parishioners a 
mere rope of sand ? What Christian connexion. 
is there between them? What intercourse in 
spiritual things? What watching over each 
other's souls? What bearing of one another's 
burdens ? What a mere jest is it then, to talk 
so gravely of destroying what never was ? The 
real truth is just the reverse of this : we inirO* 
duced Christian fellowship where it was utterly 
destroyed. And the fruits of it have been, 
peace, joy, love, and zeal for every good word 
and work." 

You, Madam, I doubt not, with several 
others, will be apt to suppose, that unless the 
discipline of the church of England is indeed 
" a mere rope of sand," the formation of Me- 
thodist societies, and particularly the introduc- 
tion of lay-preaching, was, to all intents and 
purposes, making a schism in the church as 1 
by law established, however low some, or even 
all, of the members of that church might be 
fallen as to spiritual matters. 

it 



148 SCHISM. 

After I have given you some account of se- 
veral persecutions which took place about this 
time, I will proceed with a description of all 
their different species of meetings, both for wor- 
ship and for business. 



I am, &c ? 



149 



LETTER XVIL 



Persecutions — Miraculous Escapes — Reflections. 



The years 1744, 1745, and 1746, were years of 
alarm and agitation, both to the nation at large 
and to the Methodists in particular. The Scotch 
rebellion caused the greatest consternation 
throughout the kingdom, and |prepared the 
minds of many for the reception of Methodism. 
Persecutions, however, of the most gross and 
shameful nature were employed in different parts 
of the country, to convince the poor Methodists 
that too much prayer was offensive to God, in- 
jurious to the good of the church, and danger- 
ous to the safety of the nation. At Wednesbury, 
in the county of Stafford ; at Sheffield, in York- 
shire, and various other places in the north of 
England, " the floods lifted up their voice/' and 
*' raged horribly." 



150 PERSECUTIONS. 

Mr. Wesley published an account of these pro- 
ceedings, in a little pamphlet, to which he gave 
this ironical, and very illiberal title — " Modern 
Christianity; exemplified at Wednesbury, and 
other adjacent places, in Stafford shire." How 
difficult it is to divest the mind of every degree 
of spleen and bitterness, when speaking of the 
injuries we receive from others ! 

It would be both tedious and disgusting, to 
enter into a minute detail of the riots which 
took place at the towns I have just mentioned. 
One or two extracts shall suffice. 

" I Jonathan Jones, in the county of Stafford, 
farmer, am willing to pay the king and country 
their due, might I be at peace, and go about my 
lawful occasions, as I ought to do. 

" On the 20th of June, at mv neighbour 
Adams's house, two or three were singing a 
hymn, and a parcel of 'prentices and others, in 
a very rude manner, came and threw many stones 
through the windows ; in particular, Mr. Richard 
Taylor's 'prentice. So my neighbour John 
Adams goes to Squire P. and brings a warrant 
for him ; but Mr. Taylor goes to Walsal, to the 
justice, before the offenders were brought, and 
he was with Squire P. when we came, who would 
not act at his own hall, but sent us down into 
the town ; where a great mob was waiting for 
our coming. 



PERSECUTIONS. 151 

€i So the constable gave him the warrant, and 
he said, ' What ! I understand you are Method- 
ists ? I will not act for you/ Then he went 
to the door, and told a great mob, ' They might 
do what they would;' and took off his hat, and 
swung it about, and went away. They gave 
a great shout, and some of them swore bitterly, 
they would murder us all. We sent for the con- 
stable, to help us out of the town, but he was 
not to be found. So we staid in the house about 
two hours, till we thought the mob was gone ; 
but as soon as we came out, some began to hol- 
low, and the street was quickly full. They beat 
and bruised us very much ; but through God's 
mercy we escaped with our lives. 

" About a week after there arose a great mob 
at Darleston, and broke me nine large windows, 
and many of my goods. The same day my man 
was comiug home with my team, and they met 
him, and beat him, and much abused my horses. 
At night they came to break the rest of my 
goods; but I gave them money, and they went 
away. 

iC So I was at Richard Dorset's, our church- 
warden, and many of the mob came in and said, 

e Come now d n you, Dorset, we have done 

our work, pay us our wages.' And I saw the 
drink come in, in large jugs, and every one drank 
what he would," 



159 tERSECCTlOKS. 

*? James Foster, nailer, Sarah Hires, widow, 
and Jonathan Jones, had their windows broke 
and money extorted, to save their houses. 

" John Foster, nailer, and Joice Wood, had 
their windows broke, and their goods broken 
and spoiled. 

u Jos. Spittle, collier, had his windows broke, 
his house broke open, some goods taken, and 
gome lost. 

" William Woods, brick-maker, had his win- 
dows broke twice, and was compelled to go along 
with the rioters. 

" Elizabeth Linghem, a widow with five child- 
ren, had her goods spoiled, her spinning-wheel 
(the support of her family) broke, and her pa- 
rish allowance reduced from 2s. 6d. to Is. 6d. a 
week. 

iC Valentine Ambersly, collier, had his win- 
dows broke twice, his wife, big with child, 
abused and beat with clubs. 

" George Wynn had his windows and goods 
broke, and to save his house was forced to give 
them drink. 

" Thomas Day had his windows and goods 
broke, and was forced to remove from the 
town. 

" Jos. Stubs had his windows broke twice, 
and his wife so frighted, that she miscarried." 

" The first that came to my house (Thomas 
Parkes, of West Bramwick) on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 



PERSECUTIONS. W3 

1743, were five with great clubs whom I met at 
the door. They demanded, ' Whether I would 
deny hearing these parsons ?' I told them, 
' No ; for I believed they spoke the truth as it 
is in Jesus ; and if I were to deny them, I should 
deny him tbat sent (hem.' They told me, < If I 
would not they would plunder my house.' I re- 
plied, ' They must answer it at God's bar, and 
I would mzet them there.' I asked, ' Whether 
I had done them any harm ?' They said, ' No ; 
but they would have me keep to the church/ 
I told them, ' Some of you may know that I 
worship among the dissenters; but I love a 
good man, let him go where he will, for there 
is but one church of Christ; and if you do not 
belong to that church, you had better never 
have been born.' 

" I told them e God has allowed me liberty 
of conscience, and so have the king and parlia- 
ment, and hope raiy neighbours will too ; but if" 
not, a day is coming, when the persecuted and 
the persecutor shall stand together; and if you 
wrong me now, God will right me then.' 

" While I was speaking, I caught hold of their 
clubs, and the words seemed to have some in- 
fluence on them ; but by this time there was a 
great body of them gathered together; so they 
broke my windows, and then the door, and flock- 
ed into my house, and began to break my goods. 
But here the Lord suffered them not to go so 



154 MIRACULOUS ESCAPES. 

far as they had done in other places; for they 
soon fell to plundering and loading themselves 
with the things I had tor myself; a wife, and se- 
ven children. 

"However, in a while I had prevailed with 
some of them to stop. But they then said, ' I 
must set my hand to their paper/ I told them 
* They were cloaked over with the name of Pro- 
testants; but none but a Popish spirit would tie 
men's consciences.' So I committed my cause 
to God 3 and withdrew from my house and 
them." 

u Wednesday, October 19> 1744, IJohn Wes- 
ley came to Birmingham, in my way to New- 
castle. Thursday, October 20, several persons 
from Wednesbury earnestly desired me to call 
there. I yielded to their importunity, and went. 
1 was sitting writing at Francis Ward's, in the 
afternoon ; when the cry arose, that the Darle- 
ston mob had beset the house. I called toge- 
ther those that were in the house, and prayed, 
that God would scatter the people that delight in 
war. And it was so ; one went one way, and 
one another; so that in half an hour the house 
was clear on every side. But, before five, they 
returned with great numbers. The cry of all 
was, ' Bring out the minister." 

" I desired one to bring the captain of the mob 
into the house, After a few words interchanged, 



^TillACULOUS ESCAPES. 155 

the lion was as a lamb. I then desired him to 
bring in one or two more of the most angry of 
his companions. He did so ; and in two mi^ 
nutes, their mind was changed too. I then bade 
them who were in the room make w T ay, that I 
might go out among the people. As soon as I 
was in the midst of them, I said, ' Here I am : 
what do yon want with me?' Many cried out, 
5 We want you to go with us to the justice.' I 
told them, ' That I will with all my heart/ So 
I walked before, and two or three hundred of 
them followed, to Bentley-hall, two miles from 
Wednesbury : but a servant came out, and told 
them, ' Justice Lane was not to bespoken with.' 
Here they were at a stand, till one advised, to 
go to Justice Persehouse, at Walsal. About 
seven we came to his house ; but he also sent 
word, * That he was in bed, and could not be 
spoken with.' 

" All the company were now pretty well 
agreed to make the best of their way home: 
but we had not gone a hundred yards, when the 
mob of Walsal came pouring in like a flood. 
The Daries ton mob stood against them for a 
while ; but in a short time, some being knocked 
down, and others much hurt, the rest ran away 
and left me in their hands. 

" To attempt to speak was vain, the noise be- 
ing like that of taking a city by storm; so they 
dragged me along till we came to the town, at a 

3 



IBS Miraculous escapes. 

fe\¥ bund red yaf ds distance ; where, seeing th£ 
door of a large house open, I endeavoured to go 
In; but a man, catching me by the hair (my 
MC having been caught away at the beginning), 
pulled me back into the middle of the mob, who 
%vere as so many ramping and roaring lionSi 
They hurried me from thence, through the main 
street, from one end of the town to the other. 
I continued speaking all the time to those with- 
in hearing, feeling no pain or weariness. At the 
ivest end of the town, seeing a door half open, I 
made' towards it, and would have gone in; but 
& gentleman in the shop would not suffer me, 
saying, ' They would pull the house down, if 1 
did.' However, here I stood, and asked, ' Are 
you willing to hear me speak ?' Many cried out, 
6 No, no ; knock his brains out.' Others said, 
i Nay, but we will hear him speak first.' I be- 
gan asking, ' What hurt have I done to you ? 
Whom among you have I wronged in word or 
deed?' And continued speaking till my voice 
failed. Then the floods lifted up their voice 
again; many crying out, ' Bring him away, 
bring him away/ 

" Feeling my strength renewed, I spoke again, 
and broke out aloud into prayer. And now 
dne of the men, who had headed the mob before, 
turned, and said, 'Sir, follow me: not a man 
shall touch a hair of your head.' Two or three 
itiore confirmed his words. At the same time, 



MIRACULOUS ESCAPES, l§f 

the mayor (for it was he that stood in the shop) 
cried out, ' For shame, for shame; let him go.' 
An honest butcher spoke to the same effect ; and 
seconded his words by laying hold of four or 
five, one after another, who were running on the 
most fiercely. The people then dividing to the 
right and left, those three or four men who hacj. 
spoken before, took me between them, and car? 
ried me through the midst, bitterly protesting* 
6 they would knock down any that touched him/ 
But, on the bridge, the mob rallied again : we 
therefore went on one side, over a mill- dam, and 
thence through the meadows, till a little after 
ten, God brought me safe to Wcdnesbury, bay- 
ing lost only a part of my waistcoat, and a little 
skin from one of my hands." 

On this occasion, Mr. Wesley makes the foU 
lowing curious observations : 

16 I never saw such a chain of providences be^ 
fore, so many convincing proofs that the hand 
of God is on every person and thing, over-ruling 
him as it seemeth him good. 

" Among these I cannot but reckon the cir- 
cumstances that follow: 1. That they endea^ 
youred abundance of times to trip me up, as we 
went down hill, over the wet slippery grass to 
the town ; as well judging, that if I was once 
on the ground, I should hardly rise again : but 
I made no slip, nor the least stumble at all, tilf 
I was entirely out of their hands, 2, That %U 



US 



MIRACULOUS ESCAPES. 



though many strove to lay hold on my collar, or 
clothes, they could not fasten at all; their fin- 
gers, I cannot tell how, slipping along, without 
fixing once : only one man seized the flap of my 
waistcoat, and took it away with him ; the other 
flap, in the pocket of which was a twenty pound 
bank note, was torn but half off. 3. That a lusty 
man, just behind, struck at rac many times with 
a large oaken stick ; with which, if he had 
struck me on the back of the head, I should 
probably have preached no more : but every 
time the blow was turned aside, I know not how ; 
for I could not move to the right hand or left. 

4. That another man came rushing through the 
press, raised his arm to strike, let it sink again, 
and stroking my head, said, ' What soft hair he 
lias ? I cannot find in my heart to hurt him/ 

5. That I went as streight to the mayor's door, 
when I was a little loosed, for a few moments, 
as if I had known it (which they probably 
thought I did), and found him standing in the 
shop, which gave the first check to the fury of 
the people. 6. That no creature (at least within 
my hearing) laid any thing to my charge, either 
true or false ; having in the hurry, it seems, for- 
Q'ot to provide themselves with an accusation of 



P 1 



any kind. And, lastly, That they were equally 
at a loss what to do with me, none proposing 
any determinate thing. The cry of most was, 
& Away with him, away with him :' of others^ 



REFLECTIONS. 159 

' Kill him at once.' Bat none so much as once 
mentioned how; only one or two (I almost 
tremble to relate it) screamed out (with what 
meaning I cannot tell), ' Crucify the dog, cru- 
cify him/ 

" By how gentle degrees does God prepare us, 
either for doingr or suffering: his will ! Two vears 
since, one threw at me a piece of brick, which 
grazed on my shoulder, but hurt me not It 
was a year after, that another threw a stone, 
which struck me between the eyes ; but the hint 
was soon healed ; and still no man had power to 
lay a hand upon me. 

" At St. Ives, last month, I received one 
blow, the first I ever had, on the side of the 
head ; and this night two, one before we came 
into the tow4i, and one after I was going out 
into the meadows. But though one man struck 
me on the breast, with all his might, and the 
other on the mouth, so that the blood gushed 
out, I felt no more pain, from either of the 
blows, than if they had touched me with a 
straw!!— October 22, 174: 



-7 \ r> »5 
O. 



It has ever been considered a matter of the 
greatest astonishment, that the three Hebrew 
children should pass unhurt through the burn- 
ing fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar; and that 
the presence of Daniel should suspend the sa- 
vageness, or tame the fury, of a den of lions; 



166 REFLECTIONS. 

and yet that a similar miraculous interposition 
of divine power, when manifested towards Mr. 
John Wesley, should not excite like sentiments of 
wonder and astonishment, is somewhat strange 
indeed. Nothing, surely, but the most invin- 
cible incredulity can hitherto have prevented 
mankind from speaking of this highly-favoured 
gentleman, in terms of equal admiration with 
those employed when we contemplate the won- 
ders of Omnipotence, in the deliverance of 
the pious Hebrews ! We read of martyrs, 
who, in the midst of devouring flames, when 
the lower extremities of the body have been ac- 
tually destroyed, have still declared that they 
felt not the slightest degree of pain ; and judg- 
ing from their appearance and language in 
those awful circumstances, there seemed some 
reason to admit the fact. We know not, in- 
deed, how capable the mind of man is, when 
strongly impressed with religious or philosophi- 
cal speculations, of sustaining the body under 
pain. For my own part, Madam, I confess 
myself not a little sceptical in these matters; 
and although no one can more sincerely admit 
the rational doctrine of a divine superintending 
Providence than 1 do, yet the idea I have of 
the eternal laws of order— of the inseparable 
concatenation of cause and event, prevents me 
from admitting the probability of such miracu- 
lous interpositions as those I have just mentioned. 



REFLECTIONS. 161 

I mean, Madam, of those relating to our Me- 
thodist and the dying martyrs. 

The general order, since the whole began. 
Is kept in Nature, and is kept iri Man. 



From Nature's chain, whatever link you strike, 
Tenth or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike. 



Be these conjectures right or wrong, Mr. 
Wesley appears to have conducted himself 
throughout the whole of these grievous suffer- 
ings, with the fortitude of a philosopher, and the 
patient dignity of a Christian. In the most 
trying seasons, his temper and conduct were 
such as became one whose duty it was to endure 
hardness as a good soldier; and whose glory it 
was to obey the injunction of his great Master, 
not to return evil for evil ; but to imitate him, 
who when he was reviled, reviled not again ; 
who when he suffered, threatened not. 

However the rashness and unbecoming liber- 
ties of some of his followers might (which cer- 
tainly was the case) bring upon themselves the 
fury of an enraged rabble encouraged by their 
superiors, Mr. Wesley himself always took care ? 
if possible, to give no unnecessary offence tor 
any one. He well knew how needful it was to 
act with caution and prudence under the vari- 
ous circumstances in which he was placed, as 

M 



16% REFLECTIONS. 

a Christian minister, and as the head and chief 
support of a large party. The sufferings of the 
Methodists in these parts, as usual, greatly 
promoted their cause ; and multitudes stiB 
flocked to the standard of the Wesleyans, 



I am, &c. 



163 



LETTER XFITL 



Conference — Prayer- Meetings — Specimens. 



DEAR MADAM, 

Four years had now elapsed since Mr. Wesley 
and his adherents separated from the Moravians 
at Fetter-lane ; and from a very small number, 
they were now increased to nineteen hundred, in 
and about. London, besides several preachers 
and a vast increase of private members in dif- 
ferent parts of the country. The societies had 
acquired a tolerable degree of stability ; and that 
Mr. Wesley might have his people, particularly 
the preachers, more immediately under his su- 
preme control and direction, it was necessary 
that he should have some general plan of union 
— some central point of action — where he might 
personally preside at the helm of affairs, and 
take such measures with the preachers, or adopt 

M 2 



i64 CONFERENCE. 

such regulations in the societies, as the state of 
existing circumstances would from time to time 
require. This necessary regulation was adopted 
by appointing a conference with the preachers. 
Accordingly, on the 20th of June, 1744, Mr, 
John Wesley, being in London, he there met his* 
brother Charles, two or three other clergymen, 
and a few of the preachers whom he had ap- 
pointed to come from different parts of the 
country for that purpose. This first Methodist 
conference was hold en on Monday, the 25 th of 
June, and the three following days. A confer- 
ence of the preachers has been held annually ever 
since; Mr. Wesley having presided at forty- 
seven such conferences. The subjects of their 
deliberations Were proposed in the form of ques- 
tions, which were amply discussed; and the 
questions with the answers agreed upon were 
written down, and afterwards printed, under the 
title of " Minutes of several Conversations be- 
tween the Rev. Mr. Wesley and others." They 
are now commonly called, " Minutes of Con- 
ference." 

Such is a faint outline of the origin of a Me- 
thodist conference — a kind of conclave, a synod, 
or convocation. Before I enter into a minute 
detail of the proceedings of this general assem- 
bly of methodistical divines, I will present you 
with a regular portrait of the different meetings^ 



PHAYER-MEETINGS. l€5 

<ar, as the Methodists call them, means of grace, 
which obtain in their connexion. 

I wish you, Madam, not to look upon my Letters 
as designed to convey a strictly regular " Chro- 
nological History of the People called Method- 
ists," being superseded in that plan by Mr. Myles. 
It is not necessary, therefore, that I should be 
over exact as to the dates when the several re- 
gulations, or religious institutions, took place 
among this people. I will begin with what may 
be considered an institution of the lowest order 
—a meeting at which every member present- 
may exercise his gift for the spiritual good of 
all present. This is called a Prayer- Meeting*, 
and is generally conducted in the following- 
manner: — 

The prayer-meetjngs consist of an indefinite 
number of persons, members of the society and 
others, and are held at certain given places, 
in town and country, once every week. The 
leader is a member of the society, and is sup- 
posed to possess a degree of grace at least equal 
to the rest of his brethren. A prayer-leader 
must also have a good gift in prayer ; be active 
and zealous, and be able to read so as to give out 
the hymns. He must also possess a sufficient 
degree of talent or boldness occasionally to give 
a word of exhortation. The meetings generally 
begin at about eight o'clock in the evening with 
ringing. The prayer -leader, standing in the 



166 PRAYER- MEETINGS. 

middle of tfie room, reads a line or two of thd 
hymn, which is sung in full chorus by the bro- 
thers and sisters present. He then goes to prayer, 
extemporary of course. He generally begins in- 
a low and solemn tone ; as he finds his heart 
warmed, or his passions fired, he raises his 
voice, until, in some instances, a prayer- leader 
will address the God of Heaven as if he were 
deaf, or on a journey, or would not answer aey 
other prayers but such as are loud and boister- 
ous. If the prayer-leader happen to have a re- 
markably sonorous voice; if he be very fluent 
of speech ; if he have a good memory, and can 
from that treasure bring forth things new and 
old, by repeating a long string of real or imagi- 
nary texts of scripture ; if his language in prayer 
be more than ordinarily sweet, loving, fiery, 
erithnsiastical, and intoxicating; and above all, 
if he seem to be in habits of strict intimacy with 
the Deity, and be able to manifest a very fami-. 
liar intercourse with Jesus Christ, and the Holy 
Ghost ; — in such cases, the free spirit of devo- 
tion immediately runs from heart to heart, as oil 
from vessel to vessel. I forbear to relate' the 
confusion, the tumult, the noise, and uproar, 
which at these times disgrace the order, an4 
scandalize the exercise, of Christian worship. 

After the leader has ended the first prayer, 
the people rise, and he proceeds to give out 
a second hymn. On some of the stanzas h'$ 



PRAYER-MEETINGS. 167 

will often feel himself disposed to expound ; 
during which the people sit down, or continue 
to stand, as they may find themselves inclined, 
or as there may happen to be room and seats in 
the house for such an accommodation. Most of 
those exhortations which I have heard, have 
been by no means such as would do honour to 
the cause of a religious society, or which would 
have benefitted any other people besides Me- 
thodists. 

I have more than once observed, that when a 
prayer-leader has attempted to expound the 
verse of the hymn which the people were next 
to have sung, he has rambled so much, or so 
lost himself, as absolutely to forget that the 
words he had been expounding the people had 
not yet heard ; and the time being expired before 
he had finished his harangue, he has given his 
audience a half-hour's sermon without once 
having mentioned his text ; and the good people 
have proceeded in their devotions without fur- 
ther singing or exhortation. For instance, the 
leader, stopping perhaps in the middle of a stan- 
za, would address the people by saying, " My 
brethren, before we sing the following lines, I 
feel myself inclined to call your attention to their 
serious import." He would then proceed to such 
. a length in what he thought exposition, as to- 
tally to forget his original subject, and lose 
himself in wildness and vociferation, till, ex- 



168 PRAYER-MEETINGS. 

hausted with fatigue, he would call upon 
some Brother, or Sister, to go to prayer ; — < 
which call, with several intervals of singing, on 
their knees, is obeyed by as many as feel them-r 
selves impelled to exhibit their powers of utter- 
ance by peremptory demands, or coaxing peti- 
tions, that the great Father of Heaven would 
send down his blessing, or himself make one in 
their assembly. A shaking among the dry 
bones takes place— the shout of a king is heard 
in the camp ; and as strangers are permitted to 
he present at these assemblies, it often happens 
that some are so alarmed at the denunciations, 
or roused by the fervour, of the brethren, that 
they also begin to cry aloud for mercy ; and 
afterwards become Methodists themselves. 

These meetings, when soberly conducted, 
ought to be concluded in the space of an hour; 
but when conducted in the manner I have just 
described, the continuance is wholly ad libitum, 
at the will of the leader ; who having opened the 
meeting, closes it by the usual benediction ; and 
rises to give notice of the next. 

The representation I have just given you of 
a prayer-meeting, will not, in all its circum- 
stances, apply to every one of that kind held by 
the Methodists. There are numerous honour- 
able exceptions to the wildness I have been de- 
scribing : and a prayer-meeting, when conduct- 
ed in a proper manner, with decency and in or» 



PRAYER-MEETINGS. 1 6*9 

der, is a very rational mode of promoting the 
cause of true religion, and genuine devotion. I 
am well aware, that it is by no means the wish 
of several of the preachers, that any of their 
meetings should be conducted in a manner un- 
becoming the Christian profession and charac- 
ter; but I speak of facts; and it is incumbent 
upon me to represent the Methodists as they 
really are, and not as their more sober and ra- 
tional friends could wish them to be. I have 
not yet attended one of these meetings in town ; 
but in the north of England, where the Method- 
ists are most numerous, the picture I have just 
sketched is, as every Methodist, were he so in- 
clined, could safely testify, strictly faithful and 
exact in ail its parts ; — and that not only among 
what are called Revivalists, but among the re- 
gular members of the society. 

By these prayer-meetings two important ends 
are obtained — that of strengthening the saints, 
and making of converts. The first of these ob- 
jects is supposed to be promoted by the oppor- 
tunities the prayer-meetings give to the exhort- 
ers of improving their gifts, and thereby fitting 
them to become local preachers, should the Lore! 
in his wisdom see good to give any of them a call 
to that high office. It is supposed also, that the 
members at large, by thus waiting upon the 
Lord, renew their strength; when they mount 
gs on the wings of eagles ; when they run and 



170 SPECIMENS, 

are not weary; walk and do not faint The se- 
cond object, equally important with the first, 
is gained in a very great degree by the zeal 
they manifest, and the attention which they 
at those times pay to every stranger pre- 
sent. 

The hymns selected for the purpose of being 
used, more especially at the commencement of 
the meeting, have a wonderful effect on the 
feelings and passions of the audience. These 
hymns are to be found in Parts the First and 
Second of the Hymn-book in use among the 
Methodists; and are entitled, "Hymns exhort- 
ing and beseeching sinners to return to God — 
Describing the pleasantness of Religion — The 
Goodness of God — Death— Judgment — Heaven 
■ — Hell — Praying for a Blessing — And Hymns 
describing formal and inward Religion." 

I will here present you with a few specimens 
of methodistical melody at a prayer-meeting, 
and leave you to judge what effect it is likely 
to have upon the minds of the people. The 
first is a hymn of exhortation, or a kind of mer 
trical invitation to all sinners. 

" Sinners, obey the gospel -word ! 
Haste to the supper of my Lord : 
Be wise to know your gracious day ! 
All things are ready : come away ! 



SPECIMENS. 171 

Ready the father is to own, 
And ki.ss his late-returning son : 
Ready your loving Saviour stands, 
And spreads for you his bleeding hands. 

Ready the Spirit of his love, 
Just now the stony to remove : 
T apply, and witness with the blood, 
And wash and seal the sons of God. 

Ready for you the angels wait, 
To triumph in your blest estate : 
Tuning their harps, they long to praise 
The wonders of redeeming grace. 

The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 
Is ready with their shining host : 
All heaven is ready to resound, 
6 The dead's alive ! The lost is found V 

Come, then, ye sinners, to your Lord, 
In Christ to paradise restor'd ; 
His proffer'd benefits embrace^ 
The plenitude of gospel-grace. 

A pardon written with his blood, 
The favour and the peace of God ; 
The seeing eye, the feeling sense, 
The mystic joys of penitence : 

The godly fear, the pleasing smart, 
The meltings of a broken heart; 
The tears that tell your sins forgiv'n, 
The sighs that waft your souls to hcav'n : 



I7J SPECIMENS. 

The guiltless shame, the sweet distress^ 

The unutterable tenderness ; 

The genuine meek humility ; 

The wonder, ■ Why such love to me !' 

Th' o'erwhelming pow'r of saving grace, 
The sight that veils the seraph's face ; 
The speechless awe that dares not move 5 
And all the silent heav'n of love V. 

The excellent and well-known stanzas of Dr a 
Watts, beginning, " Come, ye that love the 
Lord," are used as describing the pleasantness 
of religion. The following lines are also used 
for the same purpose ; 

" Happy soul, that, free from harms s 

Rests wjthin the Shepherd's arms ! 

Who his quiet shall molest ? 

Who shall violate his rest ? 

Jesus doth his spirit bear, 

Jesus takes his every care : 

He who found the wand'ring sheep, 

Jesus still delights to keep." 

The following also are supposed to be of a si- 
milar nature : 

u Weary souls, that wander wide 
From the central point of bliss, 
Turn to Jesus crucify 'd 

Fly to those dear wounds of his ; 



SPECIMENS. 17$ 



Sink into the purple flood ; 
Rise to all the life of God ! ;> 

The following stanzas are said to describe the 
goodness of God : 

" Behold the Saviour of mankind 

Nail'd to the shameful tree ; 
How vast the love that him inclined 

To bleed and die for me I 

Hark how he groans ! while nature shakeSj 

And earth's strong pillars bend I 
The temple's veil in sunder breaks ; 
The solid marbles rend. 

*Tis done ! the precious ransom's paid, 

' Receive my soul V he cries. 
See where he bows his sacred head I 

He bows his head and dies ! 

But soon he'll break death's envious chain. 

And in full glory shine : 
O ! Lamb of God ! was ever pain, 

Was ever love like thine 1° 

u I thirst, thou wounded Lamb of God, 
To wash me in thy cleansing blood ; 
To dwell within thy wounds : then paha 
Is sweet, and life or death is gain/' 

** G love divine ! what hast thou done ! 

The immortal God hath died for me ! 
The Father's co-eternal Son 

Bore all my sins upon the tree : 



J 74 SPECIMENS. 

The immortal God for me hath died ; 
My Lord, my Love, is crucified !" 

" Come see, ye worms, your Maker die V 



As a specimen of the sublime and terrible, 
please to take the following : 

u Descs.ibing Hell." 

" Terrible thought ! Shall I alone, 

"Who may be sav'd, shall I, 
Of all, alas ! whom I have known, 

Through sin for ever' die ? 

While all my old companions dear, 
With whom I once did live, 

Joyful at God's right-hand appear, 
A blessing to receive ! 

Shall I, amidst a ghastly band, 

Dragg'd to the judgment-seat, 
Far on the left with horror stand, 

My fearful doom to meet ? 

While they enjoy his heavenly love, 

Must 1 in torments dwell ? 
And howl (while they sing hymns above), 
- And blow the flames of hell ?" 

One of the hymns under the head, u Describ- 
ing Death/' is very excellent in its kind. It was 
written by Mr. Samuel Wesley, brother to the two 



SPECIMENS. 175 

Methodists, and has been taken from a quarto 
volume of poems, written by that gentleman. I 
close my extracts with this hymn, because I 
should like to leave a more favourable impression 
on your mind than I fear the foregoing are likely 
to produce : 

A HYMN. 

" The morning flow'rs display their sweets^ 
And gay their silken leaves unfold, 

As careless of the noon-tide heats, 
And fearless of the evening cold. 

Nipt by the wind's untimely blast, 

Parch' d by the sun's directer ray, 
The momentary glories waste, 

The short-liv'd beauties die away. 

So blooms the human face divine, 

When youth its pride of beauty shews ; 

Fairer than spring the colours shine, 
And sweeter than the virgin«rose. 

Or worn by slowly. rolling years, 

Or broke by sickness in a day, 
The fading glory disappears, 

The short-liv'd beauties die away. 

Yet thou, new rising from the tomb, 
With lustre brighter far shall shine ;' 

Revive with ever-during bloom, 
Safe from diseases and decline. 



? 7$ SPECIMENS. 

Let sickness blast, let death devour, 
If Heav'n must recommence our pains i 

Perish the grass, and fade the flovv'r^ 
If firm the word of God remains/' 

Thus, Madam, have I given you a true de- 
scription of a prayer-meeting, and of some of 
the hymns used on those occasions. 

All the prayer- leaders are met once every 
quarter, at least in those parts of the country 
where I have resided, by the preacher; when in- 
quiries are made as to their character and suc- 
cess. 



I am, &c. 



177 



LETTER XIX. 



Of Class- Meetings— Specimens. 



DEAR MADAM, 

In this letter, I purpose giving you some inform- 
ation concerning the origin and nature of what 
are called Class-meetings. 

This is such a very important part of the eco- 
nomy of Methodism, that I must give you a 
circumstantial account of its origin, which I 
will do in Mr. Weslev's own words. 

" As much," says he, " as we endeavoured to 
watch over each other, we soon found that 
some did not live the gospel. I do not know 
that any hypocrites were crept in ; for indeed 
there was no temptation, But several grew cold, 
and gave way to the sins which had long easily 
beset them. We quickly perceived there were 
many ill consequences of suffering these to re- 



1 78 CLASS-MEETING 

main among us. It was dangerous to others ; 
inasmuch as all sin is of an infectious nature. It 
brought such a scandal on their brethren, as ex- 
posed them to what was not properly the re- 
proach of Christ. It laid a stumbling-block in 
the way of others, and caused the truth to be 
evil spoken of. 

" We groaned under these inconveniences 
long, before a remedy could be found. At 
length, while we were thinking of quite another 
thing, we struck upon a method, for which we 
have cause to bless God ever since. I was talk- 
ing with several of the society in Bristol, con- 
cerning the means of paying the debts there; 
(which had been incurred by building, &c.) 
when on« stood up and said, ' Let every mem- 
ber of the society give a penny a week till all 
are paid/ Another answered, ' But many of 
them are poor, and cannot afford to do it.' — 
* Then, said he> put eleven of the poorest with 
frie, and if they can give any thing, well. I 
will call on them weekly, and if they can give 
nothing, I will give for them as well as for my- 
self. And each of you call on eleven of your 
neighbours weekly : receive what they give, and 
make up what is wanting.' It was done. In a 
while some of these informed me, ' they found 
such and such a one did not live as he ought.* 
It struck me immediately, ' This is the thing; 
the very thing we have wanted so long.' I 



CLASS-MEETINGS. 179 

called together all the leaders of the classes, (so 
we used to term them and their companies) and 
desired, that each would make a particular in- 
quiry into the behaviour of those whom he saw 
weekly : they did so. Many disorderly walkers 
were detected. Some turned from the evil of 
their ways. Some were put away from us. Many 
saw it with fear, and rejoiced unto God with re- 
verence. 

" As soon as possible the same method was 
used in London and all other places. Evil men 
were detected and reproved. They were borne 
with for a season. If they forsook their sins, we 
received them gladly : if they obstinately per- 
sisted therein, it was openly declared, that they 
were not of us. The rest mourned and prayed 
for them, and yet rejoiced, that, as far as in 
us lay, the scandal was rolled away from the so- 
ciety. 

" It is the business of a leader, 
" I. To see each person in his class, once a week 
at the least : in order 

" To inquire how their souls prosper ; 

" To advise, reprove, comfort, or exhort, as 
occasion may require ; 

" To receive what they are willing to give, 
towards the relief of the poor. 
* f II. To meet the minister and the stewards of 
the society, in order 

" To inform the minister of any that are sick, 
k 2 



] 80 CLASS-MEETINGS. 

or of any that are disorderly, and will not be 
reproved ; 

' ' To pay to the stewards what they have re- 
ceived of their several classes in the week pre- 
ceding. 

" At first they visited each person at his own 
house : but this was soon found not so expe- 
dient. And that on many accounts. 1. It took 
up more time than most of the leaders had to 
spare. 2. Many persons lived with masters, 
mistresses, or relations, who would not suffer 
them to be thus visited. 3. At the houses of 
those who are not so averse, they often had f no 
opportunity of speaking to them but in com- 
pany. And this did not at all answer the end 
proposed, of exhorting, comforting, or reprov- 
ing. 4. It frequently happened that one affirm- 
ed what another denied. And this could not be 
cleared, without seeing them together. 5. Little 
misunderstandings and quarrels of various kinds, 
frequently arose among relations or neighbours; 
effectually to remove which, it was needful to 
see them all face to face. Upon all these consi- 
derations, it was agreed, that those of each class 
should meet all together. And by this means, a 
more full inquiry was made into the behaviour 
of every person. Those who could not be vi- 
sited at home, or no otherwise than in com- 
pany, had the same advantage with others. Ad- 
vice or reproof was given as need required ; 



CIASS-MEETINGS. 181 

quarrels made up, misunderstandings removed. 
And after an hour or two spent in this labour 
of love, they concluded with prayer and thanks- 
giving." 

This, Madam, is Mr. Wesley's account of 
the origin of class-meetings at Bristol; which 
branch of Methodism being attended with the 
most beneficial effects, though instituted at 
first only to answer a temporary purpose, soon 
became common throughout the whole con- 
nexion ; and is at this time the chief support of 
the methodistical hierarchy. I will, therefore, 
be still more minute in detailing to you the na- 
ture and objects of a class-meeting. 

A class- meeting, at present, consists of 
an indefinite number of persons, generally 
from twelve to twenty; though sometimes 
fewer even than twelve. This meeting is de- 
signed for the spiritual advantage of members 
only, or of those that are desirous of becoming 
such. It is composed either of persons of both 
sexes, of men only, or of the fair sex. In the 
two first cases, the leader is always a brother; 
in the last case, the leader is chosen out of the 
sisterhood. These meetings are o*enerallv hoklen 
at private houses, and commence, at eight in the 
evening. The leader having opened the service 
by singing and prayer, all the members sit down, 
and he then relates to them his own experience 
during the preceding week, His joys, and his 



1 82 CLASS-MEETINGS, 

sorrows; his hopes and his fears; his conflicts 
with the world, the flesh, and the devil; his 
fightings without and his fears within ; his dread 
of hell, or his hope of heaven ; his pious long- 
ings and secret prayers for the prosperity of the 
church at large, and for those his brothers and 
sisters in class in particular. This experience is 
generally concluded with some such language 
as the following : — " After all, my dear brethren, 
I still find a determination in my own soul to 
press forward for the mark of the prize of my 
high calling of God in Christ Jesus. He is 
still precious. His word is as ointment poured 
forth. After all my short- comings — my doubts 
and anxieties — my wanderings, weakness, and 
weariness, his spirit still whispers to my heart 
— f Thou art black but comely. Open thy 
mouth wide and I will fill it. Make haste, my 
beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young 
hart, upon the mountains of spices!' so I still 
may say to my sweet Jesus — 

1 I hold thee with a trembling hand, 
And will not let thee go." 

After some such harangue as this, the leader 
proceeds to inquire into the state of every 
soul present; saying, u Well sister, or well bro? 
ther, how do you find the state of your soul this 
evening ?" The member then proceeds, without 



CLASS-MEETINGS. 183 

.rising, to unbosom his or her mind to the leader:; 
not, as has often been said, by particular con- 
fession, but by a general recapitulation of what 
has passed in the mind during the week. Such 
advice, correction, reproof, and consolation, is 
then given, as the state of the case may require; 
so the leader passes on to the next, and the next, 
until every one has received a portion of mea£ 
in due season. 

After this, the leader, or some other on whom 
he may be pleased to call gives out a stanza or 
two of a hymn, which being sung, standing, 
they proceed with prayer; when such thanks- 
givings, deprecations, or petitions, are poured 
forth as the different experiences may have sug» 
gested. 

Any one is at liberty to exercise the gift of 
prayer, and no strangers being present, a freer 
vent is given to the effusions of the mind and 
the soft meltings of the soul, than is usual at a 
public prayer-meeting. Those who are still un- 
converted, or who labour in the pangs of the 
new birth, lay their unhappy case before God ; 
and in the most pressing manner, beseech the 
Hverciful Jehovah then to pity them— at last to 
lend a willing ear to their complaints — to bow 
the heavens of his love and come clown — to open 
the bowels of divine compassion towards them 
r- -to look upon the bleeding wounds of his suf- 



184 CLASS-MEETINGS. 

fering Son ; and to pardon all their sins upon 
the consideration of his merits. 

Those who are groaning for full redemption — 
who seek to have their robes washed and made 
white in the blood of the Lamb — who will not 
be comforted until the last remains of sin are 
removed from their hearts, and God declares 
that they Ci are all fair, that their is no spot in 
them," are more than commonly solicitous that 
the Holy Ghost would come and dwell in their 
souls without a rival ; and that the enemies 
they had seen that day they should see no more 
for ever. , \ 

For the careless, the formal, and the luke- 
warm, the most earnest prayers are put up, lest 
the Almighty, in disgust, should " spue them 
out of his mouth." In short, Madam, every 
case is fully canvassed, and the great Physician 
of souls is applied to for 

A sovereign balm for every wound — 
A salve for every sore. 

As singing forms a considerable portion of 
the service at a class-meeting, I must give you 
one or two specimens of their hymns. 



SPECIMENS. 185 



Praying for Repentance. 



il Jesu ! my heart's desire obtain ! 
My earnest suit present and gain : 
My fulness of corruption show, 
The knowledge of myself bestow : 
A deeper displacenee at sin, 
A sharper sense of hell within : 
A stronger struggling to set free \ 
A keener appetite for Thee !" 

u Jesus, on me bestow, 

The penitent desire ; 
With true sincerity of woe 

My aching breast inspire ; 
With softening pity look, 

And melt my hardness down, 
Strike, with thy love's resistless stroke. 

And break this heart of stone t* 



A Mourner convinced of Shu 

*' I am all unclean, unclean, 

Thy purity I want ; 
My whole heart is sick of sin, 

And my whole head is faint ! 
Full of pv.trifying sores, 

Of bruises, and of wounds, my soul 
Looks to Jesus ; help imploi es. 

And gasps to be made whole !" 



186 SPECIMENS. 

11 Poor, alas ! thou know'st I am, 

And would be poorer still, 
See my nakedness and shame. 

And all my vileness feel ; 
No good thing in me resides, 

My soul is all an aching void, 
Till thy spirit here abides, 

And I am fill'd with God." 

(i Friend of sinners ! in thy hearty 

Tell me, doth there not remain 
One unarm'd and tender part,, 

Capable of human pain ? 
Lord, I wait for the reply ; 

Groan an answer from within ; 
Tell me, Comforter, that I, 

I shall be redeem'd from sin/* 

" Look net on me, ; a beast, a fiend, 
All wrath, all passion, and all pride } 

£ut see thyself the sinner's friend, 
The son of man ; the crucified ; 

The God, that left his throne above, 

The bleeding Prince of peace and love.'? 



_A Mourner brought to the Birth. 

- u I'll weary thee with my complaints : 
Here at thy feet for ever lie, 

With longing, sick ; with groaning, faint 
O give me love or else 1 die ! ;; 



SPECIMENS. 187 



Rejoicing. 

** My God, I am thine ! What a comfort divine! 
What a blessing to know that my Jesus is mine! 
In the heavenly Lamb, thrice happy I am ; 
And my heart it doth dance at the sound of his name! 

True pleasures abound in the rapturous sound ; 
And whoever hath found it hath paradise found : 
My Jesus to know, and feel his blood flow, 
*Tis life everlasting, 'tis heaven below ! 

Yet onward I haste to the heavenly feast ; 
That, that is the fulness : but this is the taste: 
And this I shall prove, till with joy I remove 
To the heaven of heavens in Jesus's love!" 

** Ah ! why did I so late thee know. 
Thee, lovelier than the sons of men ? 

Ah ! why did I no sooner go 

To thee the only ease in pain ? 
Asham'd I sigh, and inly mourn, 

That I so late to thee did turn V 



^ Believer groaning for full Redemption.. 

4i Lo ! on dangers, deaths, and snares ? 

I every moment tread ; 
Jiell without a veil appears. 

And flames around my head. 



IBS SPECIMENS, 

Sin increases more and more, 
Sin in all its strength returns 

Seven times hotter than before 
The fiery furnace burns, 



Sin in me, the inbred foe, 

A while subsists in chains ; 
But thou all thy power shalt show. 

And slay its last remains ; 
Thou hast conquer'd my desire, 

Thou shalt quench it with thy bloody 
Fill me with a purer fire, 

And make me all like God." 

" O, Love ! I languish at thy stay ! 

I pine for thee with lingering smart ! 
Weary and faint through long delay : 

When wilt thou come into my heart ? 
From sin and sorrow set me free, 
And swallow up my soul in Thee !" 



Such, Madam, are the hymns which are often 
sung on these occasions. They are poured 
forth in the most soft, soothing, languishing, 
and melting strains that music is capable of; 
and music, you know, has charms to soothe a 
savage breast. 

The leader having closed the meeting, in the 
usual manner, by benediction, proceeds to call 
over the names of every member present; and 
to collect what they are disposed to give to- 
wards the support of the work of God, The 



SPECIMENS. 189 

usual sum is one penny each ; but some, who 
can afford it, pay two-pence, three-pence, or 
even six-pence, as they may be able, or willing. 
These several sums are entered on the class- 
paper : a sheet being provided for that purpose, 
ruled and divided into columns and squares for 
every separate account ; the leader himself al- 
ways contributing his proper share. 



I am, &c. 



135 



LETTER XX. 



Of Band-meetings — Strictures by the Annual 
Reviewers — Defended by the Methodists. 



DEAR MADAM, 

I have already given you the General Direc- 
tions to all the bands. I now proceed to lay 
before you the Particular Rules of the band so- 
cieties, and to give you some account of the dif- 
ferent kinds of band-meetings. 

These rules were drawn up by Mr. Wesley, on 
December 25, 1738, and with few, if any, altera- 
tions, are still in force among the Methodists. 

" The design of our meeting, is to obey that 
command of God — ' Confess your faults one to 
another, and pray one for another, that you may 
be healed.' To this end, we intend, 

11 1. To meet once a week, at the least 



BAND-MEETINGS. 1Q1 

u 2. To come punctually at the hour appoints 
cd, without some extraordinary reason. 

" 3. To begin (those of us who are present) 
exactly at the hour, with singing or prayer. 

"4. To speak each of us in order, freely and 
plainly, the true state of our souls, with the 
faults we have committed, in thought, word, or 
deed, and the temptations we have felt since our 
last meeting. 

" 5. To end every meeting with prayer, suited 
to the state of each person present. 

"6. To desire some person among us to speak 
his own state first, and then to ask the rest in 
order, as many and as searching questions as 
may be, concerning their state, sins, and temp- 
tations. 

" Some of the questions proposed to every 
one before he is admitted among us, may be to 
this effect — 

" 1. Have you the forgiveness of your sins? 

" 2. Have you peace with God, through our 
Lord Jesus Christ ? 

94 3. Have you the witness of God's Spirit with 
your spirit, that you are a child of God ? 

M 4. Is the love of God shed abroad in your 
heart? 

" 5. Has no sin, inward or outward, dominion 
ever you, 

" 6\ Do you desire to be told of your faults? 



19% BAND-MEETINGS. 

" 7. Do you desire to be told of all your faults, 
and that plain and home ? 

" 8. Do you desire that every one of us should 
tell you, from time to time, whatsoever is in his 
heart concerning you? 

" $ Consider ! Do you desire we should tell 
you whatsoever we think, whatsoever we fear, 
whatsoever we hear, concerning you? 

" 10. Do you desire, that in doing this, we 
should come as close as possible, that we should 
cut to the quick, and search your heart to the 
bottom? 

" 11. Is it your desire and design, to be on 
this and all other occasions, entirely open, so as 
to speak every thing that is in your heart, 
without exception, without disguise, and with- 
out reserve? 

" Any of the preceding questions may be 
asked as often as occasion offers : the four fol- 
lowing at every meeting : 

" 1. What known sins have you committed 
since our last meeting? 

" 2. What temptations have you met with? 

" 3. How was you delivered ? 

" 4. What have you thought, said, or done, 
of which you doubt whether it be a sin or 
not?" 

These, Madam, are the rules which govern the 
private bands, A band-meeting is composed of 
1 



Band-meetings. 193 

about four or five persons. The single men 
meet by themselves ; the young, or unmarried 
sisters, by themselves ; and the married mem- 
bers of both sexes in like manner. The time of 
meeting is as may best suit the convenience of 
the members. One person being appointed 
leader opens the meeting, as usual, by singing 
and prayer. He then proceeds, according to 
the rules I have just transcribed for your inform- 
ation. As less reserve is used in the band, 
than in any other meeting ; and as the members 
are generally those who have either attained, or 
are earnestly seeking, a state of perfection or 
complete sanctification, the hymns and prayers 
are of as melting and warming a nature as any 
they can adopt ; and when the regular hymns 
fail of expressing the full sentiments of their en- 
larged and swelling souls, the deficiency is often 
made up by several auxiliary ones, composed by 
different persons, which have found their way 
into the hands of the Methodists, in the form 
of pamphlets, open sheets, or MS. copies. Some 
of these poetical effusions are the most luscious 
and enthusiastic productions you can possibly 
conceive ; but as they are not regularly appoint- 
ed by conference, nor indeed encouraged by the 
sober and thinking part of the society, I spare 
your modesty, by not transcribing* any of them 
into this letter. 



194? BAND-MEETINGS. 

In perusing the rules, you have perceived that 
the fullest and most particular confession of 
every sin, in thought, word, or action, that any 
in the band may have committed, is insisted 
upon. That some inconveniences should follow 
from this auricular confession, you will readily 
perceive. I will not here, however, retail the 
numerous anecdotes which have had their foun- 
dation in the subjects often discussed at a band- 
meeting; because I wish to bring no disgrace 
on an institution which may be productive of 
good, and which so many of my fellow- 
Christians regard with such profound and reli- 
gious veneration. I am persuaded that the tales* 
which the late Chisweli-street bookseller has 
heaped together, about men dressing themselves 
in women's apparel, and thereby taking advan- 
tage of the innocence or the weakness of several 
band-sisters, are wholly without foundation ; 
and I should have been disposed to have thought 
more favourably of that gentleman's Confessions, 
had he unequivocally denied many of the scan- 
dalous and indecent stones which, in his Me- 
moirs, he thought proper to relate to the preju- 
dice of the Methodists. 

That auricular confession, in the full and pro- 
per sense of the word, is practised at a band- 
meeting, is certain; but that the evils which 
have resulted from a like practice in the church 



BAND-MEETINGS. 195 

of Rome have followed these methodistical 
confessions, is, I think, very doubtful. 

A writer in the second volume of the Annual 
Review, has the following remarks on these 
band-confessions :- — " Is it possible, that they 
who devised this confession should be ignorant 
of its consequences ? Every incipient feeling, 
every lighter thought that would have passed 
over the maiden's mind, and been forgotten, is 
to be remarked and remembered, that it may 
be renewed and rivetted, and burnt in to the 
heart by the pain and shame of confession ! — of 
confession, not to one, whom for his age and 
character, she has ever from her infancy been 
taught to regard with fatherly, or more than 
fatherly reverence, and who, by the holiest oaths 
and the severest penalties, is bound to inviol- 
able secrecy — but to companions of her own 
sex and age, who will make it their tea-table 
talk ; and each of whom is, by a similar con- 
fession, to renew and sear her shame ! Either 
from natural and sacred modesty, the thought 
will be concealed, and made more intense by 
the imagined sinfulness of that concealment; 
or it will be confessed, and that action will 
strengthen the idea, and the idea will recur 
more frequently, because it is thus strengthened; 
and thus confession will be ae;ain and again re- 
quired, till a sinful pleasure be at length ex- 
tracted from confession itself, the atonement 

o2 



19$ BAND-MEETINGS. 

will partake of the nature of the sin, and all 
modesty and all shame be utterly destroyed." 

These observations, Madam, are upon the 
whole strictly just and proper: they manifest a 
considerable knowledge of the human heart ; 
but they are made in a wrong place. It is the 
office of a reviewer to state, not to controvert, 
the opinions of an author, or the practices of a 
sect. 

It is but just I should here make you ac- 
quainted with the manner in which the above 
objections to the band-confession is vindicated 
by the Methodists. This vindication made its 
appearance in the Methodist Magazine during 
the last year, under the superscription " Ve- 

StAX." 

The reviewer having started some objections 
to the separation of the sexes in the Methodist 
chapels, Verax asks, " What mischief is there 
in this ?" He then observes, " This introduces 
a subject which the wicked imagination of these 
reviewers has worked up to a delicious morsel. 
' In these societies each is to confess to all ; to 
confess in the strict and popish sense of the 
term." It may not be improper to observe here, 
that, in what are called the band-meetings of the 
Methodists, three or four persons, always of the 
same sex, agree to converse and pray with each 
other, or, according to St. James's direction, to 
confess their faults one to another, as far as they 



BAND-MEETINGS. 197 

may think it useful to do so, and to pray one 
for another, in order that, by mutual advice and 
prayer, they may be the helpers of each other's 
faith and love in Christ Jesus. But, notwith- 
standing these reviewers know that the men 
and the women meet separately, and have just 
been exclaiming against the Methodists for se- 
parating the sexes, their depraved mind imme- 
diately brings together c the father confessor (a 
Methodist preacher) and a single woman.' — 
1 We must touch lightly,' say they, ' on this 
abominable subject.' Then they begin to sug- 
gest what must pass in c the maiden's mind,' 
until ' all modesty and all shame be utterly de- 
stroyed.' Now this is all pure fiction of their 
own invention, as ten thousands of persons can 
testify, who have long been of the Methodist 
societies, and as every honest and decent man 
in the nation will readily believe." 

How far Verax has been successful in vindir 
eating the practice of the Methodists in this- 
particular, it is not for me to determine. Be 
this, however, as it may, the Annual Reviewer 
has certainly fallen into a most glaring error, 
by supposing that confession is ever made by 
any woman in the Methodist society to any 
preacher whatsoever. I would hope, also, that no 
band sister or brother is ever so lost to all sense 
of shame and honesty, as to repeat abroad what 



193 BAND-MEETINGS. 

passes in confidence at a private band-meeting* 
For my own part, I never knew an instance of 
the kind during my connexion with the Me- 
thodists, 

Mr. Wesley defends the band-confessions in 
the following manner : — • 

" An objection boldly and frequently urged, 
is, that ' all these bands are mere Popery.' 1 
hope I need not pass a harder censure on those 
(most of them at least) who affirm this, than 
that they talk of they know not what ; that they 
betray in themselves the most gross and shame- 
ful ignorance. Do not they yet know, that the 
only popish confession is, the confession made 
by a single person to a priest ? (And this itself 
is in nowise condemned by our church ; nay, 
she recommends it in some cases). Whereas, 
that which we practise, is the confession of se- 
veral persons conjointly, not to a priest, but to 
each other. Consequently, it has no analogy at 
all to popish confession. But the truth is, this 
is a stale objection, which many people make 
against any thing they do not like : it is all 
popery out of hand." 

You will understand, Madam, it is not posi- 
tively insisted upon, though earnestly requested, 
that all the members of the Methodist con- 
nexion should belong to some band : a regular 
attendance on public worship and class, being 



BAND-MEETINGS. 199 

all that is required of this nature to entitle a per- 
son to full membership. 

At certain stated periods, all the bands as- 
semble together in the chapel, where they are 
met by the preacher, who relates his own expe- 
rience, and hears the experience of any others 
who may be disposed so to favour him. At 
these public bands, no confession is required. 
The meetiug commences with singing, and is 
carried on by atternate intervals of speaking, 
singing, and prayer. No persons are admit- 
ted to the public bands, but those who meet in 
some one of the private bands, and can pro- 
duce a proper certificate to that purpose. 

There are also what are called select bands.-** 
These are, I believe, conducted in the same 
manner as the public bands ; but consist of 
those members only who have attained to what 
is called a state of perfection ; that is, those 
who never, on any account, or on any occasion, or 
temptation whatsoever, commit the slightest sin % 
in thought, word, or deed ! 

You would suppose, Madam, that the num- 
ber of these must be very small ; but, I assure 
you, the select band is better attended than you 
would imagine ! As I had never the unspeak- 
able happiness of having arrived at a proper de- 
gree of perfecting grace, I never could be ad- 
mitted into the sanctum sanctorum of a select 



£00 BAND-MEETINGS. 

band ; and cannot therefore inform you, from 
personal observation, of all that passes on those 
occasions. Nothing, however, I am confident, 
that is in itself wrong, or unbecoming the cha- 
racter of a Methodist, takes place in, a select 
band. 



I am, &c. 



201 



LETTER XXL 



Of Agaptfj or Love- Feasts— Specimens. 



DEAR MADAM, 

I yow proceed to give you some account of the 
agapas, or love- feasts, of the Methodists. No 
branch of the Wesleyan church-discipline has 
been more mistaken, or more grossly misrepre- 
sented, by persons ignorant of the subject, than 
this. I remember, when I first attended one of 
these meetings, I thought surely a new species 
of beings had come among us, in the form of 
men, to tell what was passing in the realms of 
light, and in the regions of eternal darkness. 

Mr. Wesley borrowed the practice of holding 
love-feasts from the Moravian brethren. The 
first he ever saw was in the year 1737, during his 
residence in America, when he attended at one 
among the Germans, He was so struck with the 



202 LOVE-FEASTS. 

order and decency with which it was conducted, 
that he afterwards introduced these agapae into 
the economy of Methodism. 

At first they were designed for the bands only. 
Afterwards, the whole society were permitted to 
partake with them. 

" The agapse, or love-feasts, or feasts of cha- 
rity, were held among the primitive Christians, 
during the three first centuries of Christianity. 
St. Chrysostom derives the love-feasts from the 
practice of the apostles ; and we know that St. 
Jude speaks of wicked persons, who had crept 
in among the Christians of his time, and were 
spots in their feasts of charity. The first Chris- 
tians had, for a short period, all things in com- 
mon ; but that equality of possession very soon 
ceased, and it is probable that the agapae, or 
love-feasts, were substituted in the place of it. 
On certain days, after partaking of the Lord's 
supper, the primitive Christians met to eat and 
drink together; the rich bringing a sufficient 
quantity of provisions for themselves and the 
poor." 

Such is the account the Methodists give of 
the ancient love- feasts. As 1 am not engaged 
to oppose or defend this practice, I may be ex- 
cused from entering further into the question. I 
shall, therefore, proceed with my description of & 
Methodist love- feast 



LOVE- FEASTS. 203 

These meetings are kept, in most places, once 
every quarter; viz. the Sunday immediately 
following what the Methodists call Quarter-day, 
of which I shall give you some account by and 

by- 

After the regular public service is ended, and 
the whole congregation is dismissed, when it 
is intended that a love-feast should be kept, the 
members return into the chapel ; having shewn 
their certificates, or notes of admission, to some 
persons, appointed for that purpose, who stand 
at the door. 

The preacher being still in the pulpit, opens 
the service by singing and prayer ; which be- 
ing ended, every one sits down, while the stew- 
ards hand to all present a little plain, or spiced, 
bread and water. It was originally the practice 
literally to break bread with each other; but 
much confusion and disturbance throughout the 
whole assembly being thereby occasioned, that 
practice is now prohibited by positive command 
of conference. It would very often happen, 
that a person might have a particular attach- 
ment to some brother or sister who might be 
seated several pews distant; and when an at- 
tempt was made to manifest this attachment by 
breaking bread with this favourite, the noise and 
trouble of scrambling over the backs of the 
seats, or of pressing through the aisle, not only 
retarded the more important business of the 



204 LOVE-FEASTS, 

love-feast, but gave considerable offence to those 
wha had either more modesty or less violent 
and impatient prepossessions. It was therefore 
a prudent step to prohibit that species of break- 
ing of bread ; and I believe that disorderly prac- 
tice is now entirely laid aside. 

After the ceremony of carnal feasting is ended, 
another hymn is usually sung, during which 
the stewards are handing the plate round, for 
the purpose of collecting what every one is dis- 
posed to give for the relief of the poor members. 
I have, known, that where the society's fi- 
nances have been in a low state, the love-feast 
money has been put into the general stock. 
This, however, I believe, is not a very common 
practice; and was not resorted to at all in the 
days of primitive Methodism. 

After this the preacher rises, and relates his 
experience to the whole congregation. He usual- 
ly begins, more especially if he is but lately 
come among them, with the first drawings of the 
Spirit on his mind. He tells how long, and some- 
times in what instances, he resisted those gra- 
cious strivings. He relates any remarkable de- 
liverances, and extraordinary interpositions of 
Providence, which he may at any period of his 
life have experienced. He tells how his eyes 
were first opened to the truth — who was the 
happy instrument of his conviction — how, when, 
and where he found the pardon of his sins—* 



LOVE-FEASTS. 205 

what have been his trials, backslidings, perse- 
cutions, and comforts, since he first knew the 
Lord — how his labours in the vineyard of Christ 
have been crowned with success, or hindered by 
opposition — and, lastly, what he then feels of a 
spiritual nature going forward in his soul, with 
his fixed resolution to spend and be spent in so 
good a cause. 

i: O ! that if with my latest breath 

T may but gasp his name ! 
Preach him to all, and cry in death, 

Behold I behold! the Lamb !" 

While the preacher is thus engaged, sighs, 
groans, devout aspirations, and even audible 
ejaculations of prayer or praise, are issuing from 
the audience in every direction ; who are of 
course more or less impressed, as the experience 
of the preacher may happen to be more or less 
wonderful, uncommon, or striking. I have often 
noticed, that some appropriate anecdote, or 
smart saying, produces the most sensible and 
visible effect. This effect, however, has not 
been so permanent as when the preacher has re- 
lated some of the deep things of God — the secrets 
of the Almighty. 

The preacher, having concluded his harangue, 
if no other person rises immediately, a stanza or 



206 LOVE-FEASTS. 

two is sung, to inspire their minds with due fer- 
vour and becoming confidence. 



Ct Come, Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire, 
Let us thine influence prove, 

Source of the old prophetic fire I 
Fountain of life and love ! 

Expand thy wings, celestial Dove, 
Brood o'er our nature's night ; 

On our disorder'd spirits move, 
And let there now be light I" 



During the time of singing, the Methodists 
are uniformly in a standing posture. They now 
sit down ; and, after a few moments of " ex- 
pressive silence/' some one rises to tell what the 
Lord has done for his soul. The same routine 
of striving, resistance, yielding, conviction, con- 
version, trials, temptations, present feelings, and 
future resolutions, is pursued ; varying only in 
those circumstances which the accidental dif- 
ferences of condition in life may have occa- 
sioned. 

During this meeting, which usually lasts 
about two hours, numerous experiences are re- 
lated, both by men and women. 

I have often been exceedingly pained, on ob- 
serving the resisting bashfulness, and the evi- 
dent signs of inward agitation, which some oi 



LOVE-FEASTS. 207 

the younger part of the females have betrayed, 
just before they have risen to speak. It is 
thought by many well-meaning Methodists, 
that not to tell their experiences on these occa- 
sions, is to quench the Spirit of God in their 
hearts, if it be not even a tacit denial of Christ 
himself This opinion, I believe, uniformly ob- 
tains where the modest or the cowardly member 
has had some extraordinary work of grace on 
the heart — where God has been deepening his 
work — making bare his holy arm in the soul, 
and putting to flight the inward armies of the 
aliens. On these occasions, to feel backward to 
speak for God, is to listen to the suggestions of 
the devil ; who will always strive to prevent his 
enemies from telling of any of his temptations, 
or of any battles he may have lost, in righting 
against the good Spirit of Truth in the heart. 
Thus, when these convictions happen to take 
place in a modest or a fearful mind, the struggle 
between a sense of duty, and the force of temp- 
tation, inclination, or habit, is violent beyond 
description. I have witnessed and felt these in- 
ternal conflicts with the most poignant sorrow, 
and have known them, in some constitutions, 
productive of very alarming consequences. If 
the enemy happen to prove victorious, the la- 
bour of a thousand prayers is scarcely sufficient 
to restore the unhappy victim ; but if his hellish 



208 LOVE-FEASTS. 

power is overcome, or the sense of shame re- 
moved, by the virtue of inward prayer, or the 
power of example, the most happy consequences 
follow; and the victorious champion rises with 
confidence to tell of the engagement, and there- 
by so effectually shames the adversary, that he 
skulks away in disgrace and wrath, to try his 
powers upon less resisting subjects. 

I remember being once very much struck with 
the expressions of an old man at a love-feast, 
who had just recovered from a very dangerous 
fit of sickness. "I was," said he, " given over 
by the doctor, and every one thought I was 
about to take my flight into eternity. I thought 
so myself; and though I could easily c read my 
title clear to mansions in the skies;' though I 
knew that God for Christ's sake had pardoned 
all my sins ; and that whenever the silver cord 
should be loosened at the fountain, I should 
sink into the arms of Jesus; yet as I drew near 
the swelling floods, I thought I ftlt Jordan cold 
to my fret, and I shrunk back!" What a fine 
poetical figure ! 

It will frequently happen, during a love-feast, 
if the presiding preacher is either a more than 
commonly wise and prudent man; if he is old 
and nerveless, or careless and lukewarm ; that 
the business of the meeting will for a time, like 
the wheelless chariots of Pharaoh, move on 



LOVE-FEASTS. 209 

heavily. In this case, recourse is always had 
to the fascinating and invigorating power of vo- 
cal music. 

" Come, Lord, from above, these mountains remove; 
Overturn all that hinders the course of thy love: 
My bosom inspire, enkindle the fire, 
And fill my whole soul with the flames of desire !" 

" Ah, Lord ! enlarge our scanty thought. 
To know the wonders thou hast wrought! 
Unloose our stammering tongue to tell 
Thy love immense, unsearchable 1" 

Love-feasts are always well attended. Public 
notice having been previously given, the coun- 
try people flock in crowds to these meetings. 
Although they are intended for the regular 
members only, yet vast numbers of well* 
disposed strangers gain admittance, by pro- 
curing notes for that purpose from the preach- 
er, on being recommended by a member. It 
consequently happens, that numerous conver- 
sions take place on these occasions. When the 
speaking is concluded, several of the people go 
to prayer, one after another, or all at once, as 
the preacher may be well or ill disposed to fa- 
vour a little spiritual romping, and holy con- 
fusion. Many of the preachers, however, of 
the present day, having drunk a little into the 
spirit of the world, that is, having become 



21© SPECIMENS. 

ashamed of the conduct of some of their bre- 
thren who have encouraged noisy meetings, are 
led to deprive their people of their Christian li- 
berty, and consequently to check all extrava- 
gances of this nature whenever they perceive 
them beginning to break out. This cannot, 
however, be said of all the Methodist preachers 
even of the present time. I know some who 
would rather attend a meeting of enthusiastic 
bawlers than peaceably to enjoy the marrow and 
fat things of this vain world. 

I will close this account of a Methodist love- 
feast by transcribing for your perusal one or two 
of the hymns sung on those occasions. I must 
not, however, forget to tell you, that when two 
or more persons rise to tell their experience, at 
one and the same time, the preacher, like the 
Right Honourable Speaker in the House of 
Commons, rises to put them to rights, and to 
say who is to have the precedence. 

THE LOVE-FEAST. 

" Come, and let us sweetly join, 

Christ to praise in hymns divine ! 

Give we all with one accord, 

Glory to our common Lord ; 

Hands, and hearts, and voices raise ; v j 

Sing as in the ancient days ; _ 

Antedate the joys above, 

Celebrate the feast of love. , ' 



SPECIMENS. 211 



Strive we, in affection strive ; 
Let the purer flame revive, 
Such as in the martyr's glow'd, 
Dying champions for their God; 
We like them may live and love ; 
Call'd we are their joys to prove ; 
Sav'd with them from future wrath, 
Partners of like precious faith. 

Sing we then in Jesu's name, 
Now as yesterday the same ; 
One in every time and place, 
Full for all of truth and grace ; 
We for Christ, our master, stand 
Lights in a benighted land : 
We our dying Lord confess $ 
We are Jesu's witnesses. 

Witnesses that Christ hath died* 
We with him are crucified : 
Christ hath burst the bands of death ; 
We his quickening spirit breathe : 
Christ is now gone up on high, 
Thither all our wishes fly ; 
Sits at God's right hand above : 
There with him we reign in love." 



" Come thou, high and lofty Lord ; 
Lowly, meek, incarnate Word ; 
Humbly stoop to earth again ; 
Come and visit abject man ! 

?2 



%\% MR. FELLOW E§ 

Jesu ! dear expected guest ; 
Thou art bidden to the feast I 
For thyself our hearts prepare ; 
Come, and sit, and banquet there* 

Jcsu, we thy promise claim : 
We are met in thy great narne ; 
In the midst do thou appear ! 
Manifest thy presence here 1 
Sanctify us, Lord, and bless ! 
Breathe thy Spirit ! give thy peace \ 
Thou thyself within us move j 
Make our feast a feasf of love. 

Let the fruits of grace abound 5 
Let in us thy bowels sound ; 
Faith, and love, and joy increase, 
Temperance and gentleness : 
Plant in us thy humble mind, 
Patient, pitiful, and kind: 
Meek and lowly let us be, 
Full of goodness — full of thee. 

Make us all in thee complete : 
Make us all for glory meet ; 
Meet i ? appear before thy sight ? 
Partners with thy saints in light ; 
Call, O ! call us each byname J 
To the marriage of the Lamb ! 
Let us lean upon thy breast ! 
Love be there our endless feast J w 



Permit me, Madam, here to protest against 
the very illiberal reflection of Mr. Fellowes ; 

3 



COfc SCTED. 213 

Who, in his " Religion without Cant/' asserts, 
that, " In the agapse of the fanatics (alluding, I 
suppose, to the Methodists), desire is often in- 
dulged without restraint, because it is thought 
to contribute to the perfecting of the saints in 
love." If Mr. Fellowes, by this indecent re- 
flection, does really mean to insinuate, that any 
thing of a licentious nature is permitted at a 
Methodist love-feast, I would recommend it to 
him, before he ventures another censure of this 
nature, to make himself a little better acquainted 
with his subject. 



I am, ScQo 



214 



LETTER XXII. 



Of Watch-Nights— Wrestling Jacob. 



DEAR MADAM, 

Permit me, in this letter, to conduct you to a 
methodistical watch-night. Yet be not startled, 
dear Madam, at the lateness of the hour at which 
you will have to return home from this meeting. 
The sons of Thespis will scarcely have gone to 
rest ; and some hours before 

u The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn," 

shall have roused the industrious to labour, or 
the sportsman to the field, you shall have spent 
the proper time in spiritual exercises, and be 
calmly laid in the arms of Morpheus. 

It has been often asserted, that a watch-night 
lasts until day-break in the morning; and that 



WATCH-NIGHTS. 215 

during the soft and silent hours of midnight, 
when all is dark, and calm, and soothing, a full 
loose is given to the passions, and the sensual 
desires are gratified without shame or restraint. 
I do assure you, Madam, that such represent- 
ations are false and wicked. I have attend- 
ed at many watch-nights, and scarcely ever 
knew them to last longer than one o'clock in 
the morning, and very seldom to that hour, un- 
less there happened to be a remarkable out 
pouring of the Spirit, a great revival of the work 
of God ; or there were many souls in distress ; 
and it would have been cruel and dangerous to 
have forsaken them before they were set at liberty, 
that is, till they believed themselves to have ob- 
tained the pardon of their sins. In these cases, 
indeed, I have known a watch-night to last 
until day-light the next morning. This was the 
case at Bolton, in Lancashire, a few years ago, 
where, in the course of about a fortnight, near 
two hundred persons, men and women, were 
converted to Methodism, and joined the so- 
ciety. 

That I may be wholly impartial in my de- 
scriptions, I will, as usual, give you Mr. Wes- 
ley's own account of the origin of watch-nights, 
and his remarks in defence of them. 

" I was informed," says he, " that several per- 
sons in Kingswood frequently met together, at 
the school, and (when they could spare time) 



%\6 WATCH-NIGHTS. 

spent the greater part of the night in prayer, atict 
praise, and thanksgiving. Some advised me to 
put an end to this : but upon weighing the 
thing thoroughly, and comparing it with the 
practice of the ancient Christians, I could see no 
cause to forbid it. Rather, I believed, it might 
be made of more general use. So I sent them 
word, ' I designed to watch with them, on the 
Friday nearest the full moon, that we might 
have light thither and back again/ I gave 
public notice of this, the Sunday before, and 
withal that I intended to preach; desiring they, 
and they only, would meet me there, who could 
do it without prejudice to their business or fa^ 
milies. On Friday abundance of people came. 
I began preaching between eight and nine : and 
we continued till a little beyond the noon of 
night, singing, praying, and praising God. 

" This we have continued to do once a month 
ever since, in Bristol, London, and Newcastle, 
as well as Kingswood. And exceeding great 
are the blessings we have found therein : it has 
generally been an extremely solemn season; 
when the word of God sunk deep into the heart,, 
even of those who till then knew him not. If 
it be said, * this was Only owing to the novelty 
of the thing (the circumstance which still draws 
such multitudes together at those seasons) or 
perhaps to the awful silence of the night;' lam 
not careful to answer in this matter. Be it so; 



WATCH-NIGHTS, 217 

however, the impression then made on many- 
souls, has never since been effaced. Now, al- 
lowing that God did make use either of the no- 
velty, or any other indifferent circumstance, in 
order to bring sinners to repentance, yet they 
are brought. And herein let us rejoice toge- 
ther. 

" Nay, may I not put the case farther yet? 
If I can probably conjecture^ that either by the 
novelty of this ancient custom, or by any other 
indifferent circumstance, it is in my power to 
' save a soul from death, and hide a multitude 
of sins:' am I clear before God if I do it not ? 
If I do not snatch that brand out of the burn- 

You perceive, Madam, that the watch- 
nights were originally kept once every month. 
They are now held once a quarter only; the 
greatest attendance being generally on the 
night immediately preceding the new-year's- 
day; when the infant year is ushered in with 
songs of gladness, praise, and thanksgivings 
while the sweet concert of a million of bells, in 
every part of the nation, loudly proclaim the 
same returning season ! 

The other three watch-nights are kept on the 
eve of the quarterly-meetings, after a day of 
fasting and prayer, 

Having been quarter-day, the preachers are 
usually all at home that night; and the pulpit 



SIS WATCH-NIGHTS. 

is adorned by the appearance, and honoured by 
the exertions, of two or three ministers on the 
same evening. 

The service is opened, as on other occasions, 
with singing and prayer; both of which exer- 
cises are more than usually long. Next follows 
a long discourse by the senior preacher, on the 
duty and advantages of holy watching, and spi- 
ritual waiting. By the time this is ended, it 
may be about half past ten o'clock. After this 
follows more singing and prayer. Then ano- 
ther of the preachers rises, and, without taking 
a text, harangues the audience as long as he 
pleases, and upon any subject that may sug- 
gest itself to his mind. They sing and pray 
again ; and a third, if there happen to be so 
many present, which is often the case in large 
circuits, goes over the same round. In most 
places, liberty is then given to any one of the 
brothers or sisters, in the body of the chapel, 
to exercise the gift of prayer; when several, 
whose souls have been long waiting to be 
poured forth in vocal prayer, give vent to their 
feelings, and address the God of Heaven as they 
may be severally disposed to make known their 
requests, or to express their gratitude. 

It now becomes a matter of the greatest dif- 
ficulty for those preachers who are concerned 
for the honour of religion or the credit of Me- 
thodism, to prevent the most shameful and dis- 
4 



WATCH-NIGHTS. 21«) 

graceful vociferation and disturbance. Indeed, 
when any one begins to cry out for pardon, 
under an apparent sense of extraordinary guilt 
and condemnation, no persuasions, threats, or 
exertions of the ministers, can prevent the good 
people from indulging themselves. I have seen 
a preacher bite his lips with anguish and chagrin, 
or gnash his teeth with just indignation, when 
he has found himself so completely outpoured 
by the obstreperousness of his audience, that he 
has been forced to sit down with fatigue in the 
pulpit, or to descend, and wander from pew to 
pew, endeavouring in vain to quell the tumult, 
of which his own sermon has often been the ef- 
ficient cause. These disturbances are, I am in- 
formed, not very frequent in Town. In Man- 
chester, Liverpool, Macclesfield, and other 
places, they are by no means, even to this day, 
unusual or uncommon : and this all the preach- 
ers in the connexion, would they speak out, 
know to be a fact. I speak it, however, to their 
praise, that, both by the exclusion of the most 
boisterous members, and by express prohibition, 
they do all they can to stop these disgraceful 
proceedings. Partial divisions are frequently 
taking place on this very account. There are, 
nevertheless, many of the preachers themselves, 
who still openly countenance and abet this 
work, believing, with great sincerity, that God 



22$ WATCH-&IGHTS. 

is ai these times pouring: out his good Spirit ori 
the people, and that to discountenance a noise 
among therm would be to fight against God 
himself ! 

Watch-nights, as you will readily suppose, 
are always very prolific sources of proselytism ; 
and the Methodist interest owes much to the 
soothing strains and intoxicating influence of 
watch-night prayers, s.titf watch-night hymns. 

Were X disposed to dispute the moral and reli- 
gious advantages of any part of the Methodist 
discipline, it would be that which enjoins the 
holding of these midnight assemblies. Old and 
young, married and single, persons of both sexes 5 
being here joined in promiscuous intercourse, 
undoubtedly get their senses inflamed to a pitch 
of fervour which it will require all the prudence, 
and all the watchfulness, of which the most sober 
and reflecting are capable, to prevent falling into 
fervours less pure and innocent than those which 
the sacred fire of devotion has enkindled. Con- 
sequences the most dangerous may arise from the 
temptations which are laid in the way of two 
young persons returning home together, in the 
dead of night, after having attended a watch- 
night. I speak only from conjecture, and what 
is likely to be the result of these assemblies 
without great care and prudence on the part of 
the persons concerned. I declare, however^ 
that I never knew an instance of any materially 



WRESTLING JACOB. £21 

evil consequence arising from an attendance at 
^ratch-night; unless I may call long and vio- 
lent colds, asthmas, and stubborn rheumatisms, 
such; and these can but seldom happen, the 
number of watch-nights being so few during the 
year. 

I must, Madam, be allowed to give yot^ 
t 1 Wrestling Jacob, 5 ' one of the hymns sung on 
watch-nights ; and I am the more inclined to 
transcribe this poem, from the great esteem in 
which it was held by the late pious and vener- 
able Dr. Isaac Watts, who is reported to have 
said, " That single poem, 'Wrestling Jacob,' is. 
worth all the verses I ever wrote." This, then, 
shall be my apology for transcribing in my let- 
ter so long a production. 

WRESTLING JACOB. 

" Come, O, thou Traveller unknown, 
Whom still I hold, but cannot sec! 

My company before is gone, 
And I am left alone with thee : 

With thee all night I mean to stay, 

And wrestle till the break of day. 

I iiced not tell thee who I am, 

M3' misery or sin declare: 
Thyself hast call'd me by my name; 

Look on thy hands and read it there; 
But who, I ask thee, who art thou ? 
Tell me thy name, and tell me now. 



222 WRESTLING JACOB. 

In vain thou strugglest to get free, 
I never will unloose my hold : 

Art thou the man that died for me? 
The secret of thy love unfold : 

Wrestling, I will not let thee go, 

Till I thy name, thy nature know. 

Wilt thou not yet to me reveal 
Thy new, unutterable name ? 

Tell me, I still beseech thee, tell ; 
To know it now resolv'd I am ; 

Wrestling I will not let thee go, 

Till I thy name, thy nature kjiow. 

What though my sinking flesh complain, 
And murmur to contend so long ? 

J rise superior to my pain : 

When I am weak then I am strong ; 

And when my all of strength shall fail, 

I shall with the God-man prevail. 

Yield to me now for I am weak ; 

But confident in self-despair ! 
Speak to my heart, in blessings speak ; 

Be conquered by my instant prayer : 
Speak, or thou never hence shalt move ? 
And tell me if thy name is Love. 

J Tis Love ! 'tis Love ! thou died*st for me ; 

I hear thy whisper in my heart ; 
The morning breaks, the shadows nee 3 

Pure, universal Love thou art : 
To me, to all, thy bowels move, 
Thy nature and thy name is Love, 



WRESTLING JACOB. 223 

My prayer hath power with God ; the grace 

Unspeakable I now receive ; 
Through faith I see thee face to face ; 

I see thee face to face, and live : 
In vain I have not wept and strove ; 
Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

I know thee, Saviour, who thou art, 

Jesus, the feeble sinner's friend, 
Nor wilt thou with the night depart, 

But stay and love me to the end : 
Thy mercies never shall remove ; 
Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

The Sun of Righteousness on me 

Hath rose, with healing in his wings ; 

Withered my nature's strength ; from thee. 
My soul its life and succour brings ; 

My help is all laid up above ; 

Thy nature and thy name is Love 

Contented now upon my thigh 

I halt till life's short journey end ; 
All helplessness, all weakness I 

On thee alone for strength depend : 
Nor have I power from thee to move; 
Thy nature and thy name is Love. 

Lame as I am, I take the prey ; 

Hell, earth ? and sin, with ease overcome \ 
I leap for joy, pursue my way, 

And as a bounding hart fly home, 
Through all eternity to prove 
Thy nature and thy name is Love," 



£9# DR. WATTS, 

The foregoing poem, from the muse of Mr, 
Charles Wesley, lias some merit as the raptur- 
ous effusion of a zealous and devout mind. — • 
What could induce Dr. Watts to assert its su«* 
periority to all that he had ever written, I know 
not; unless it was from the resemblance it bears, 
to his own poem, entitled " Converse with 
Christ" 



| am, &c* 



%<M 



LETTER XX1IL 



Of the Yearly Covenant, 



DEAR MADAM) 

The Covenant, one of the most solemn and aw- 
ful assemblies of the Methodists, has often been 
tlae subject of mistake and severe animadver- 
sion. I will therefore give a perfectly impar- 
tial account of this sacred ceremony, having 
myself attended at more than one or two of 
them. 

The Reviewer, to whom I alluded in a former 
epistle, asserts of the Methodists, that " the in- 
crease of madness, in England, has been pro- 
portioned to the increase of Methodism," and 
he seems to suppose that the increase of this na- 
tional disorder is owing, in a great measure, to 
" denunciations of damnation, and to that tre- 
mendous blasphemy, their yearly covenant with 

Q 



%%6 YEARLY COVENANT. 

Almighty God !" To this heavy charge, Verax 
answers as follows : — 

" Tremendous blasphemy ! What is there 
blasphemous in covenanting or agreeing to serve 
God? Good King'Josiah, and his people, both 
small and great, made a covenant before the 
Lord, to ' keep his commandments with all their 
heart, and all their soul. And all the people 
stood to the covenant' 2 Kings, xxiii. 3. Jere- 
miah, when describing the effects of the preach- 
ing of the gospel, informs us, that the people 
shall ask the way to Zion, &c. saying, ' Come, 
and let us join ourselves to the Lord, in a per- 
petual covenant that shall not be forgotten/ 
chap. 1. ver. 5. 

"In the small pamphlet, entitled, ' Directions 
to Penitents and Believers for renewing their 
Covenant with God/ which is extracted from a 
larger work of the pious and excellent Richard 
Alleine, and may be had at any of the chapels of 
the Methodists, the whole of what these men 
call a tremendous blasphemy, may be seen. The 
pamphlet begins with these words — ' Get these 
three principles fixed in your heart: — That 
things eternal are much more considerable than 
things temporal — That things not seen are as 
certain as the things that are seen — That upon 
your present choice depends your eternal lot. 
Choose Christ and his ways, and you are blessed 
for ever ; refuse, and you are undone for ever/ 

3 



YEARLY COVENANT. 227 

After this exordium, a short account is given of 
the fallen state of man, and of the sentiments of 
an awakened sinner, who sees and feels that the 
wrath of God abideth on him. This sinner is 
called upon to cast himself oil the merit of 
Christ Jesus for the pardon of his sin ; and he is 
then described as choosing Christ for his por- 
tion and salvation, and the commandments of 
God for the rale of his conduct. ' I do here 
take thee, the Lord Jehovah, Father, Son, and 
Holy Ghost, for my portion ; and I do give up 
myself, body and soul, for thy service, pro- 
mising and vowing to serve thee, in holiness 
and righteousness, all the days of my life.' Good 
Richard Alleine recommended, that this cove- 
nant or engagement to serve God, should not 
only be made in word and in heart, but in writ- 
ing, in order that it might be more particularly 
remembered and adverted to, as an inducement 
to flee from sin, in time of temptation and dan- 
ger. But these reviewers make a mock at sin, 
and as they think it tremendous blasphemy to co- 
venant to serve God, it cannot be expected, that 
they will condemn those who covenant to serve 
the devil." 

Wednesday, August 6, 1755, Mr. Wesley 
writes thus : " I mentioned to the congregation 
another means of increasing serious religion, 
which had been frequently practised by out 
forefathers, and attended with eminent blessing ; 



22$ YEARLY COVENANT. 

namely, the joining in a covenant to serve God, 
with all our soul. I explained this for several 
mornings following ; and on Friday, many of us 
kept a fast unto the Lord, beseeching him to give 
us wisdom and strength, to promise to the Lord 
our God, and keep it. On Monday, at six in 
the evening we met for that purpose, at the 
French church in Spitalflelds. After I had re- 
cited the tenor of the covenant proposed, in the 
words of that blessed man, Richard Alleine, all 
the people stood up, in token of assent, to the 
number of about eighteen hundred. Such a 
night I scarce ever knew before : Surely the 
fruit of it shall remain for ever." Since that 
period, the covenant has been renewed once 
every year, generally on the night of the new 
year, or on the Sunday next following. 

The renewal of the covenant is always, I be- 
lieve, preceded by a sermon, very often on 
Joshua's resolution — " As for me and my house, 
we will serve the Lord." After sermon, those 
who are disposed to enter into this most solemn 
compact with Jehovah, return into the chapel, 
shewing their tickets at the door. 

Singing and extemporary prayer being ended, 
the following awful address is read aloud from 
the pulpit, all the people kneeling : — 

" O, most dreadful God ! for the passion of 
thy Son, I beseech Thee, accept of thy poor 
prodigal, now prostrating himself at thy door; 



YEARLY COVENANT. 229 

I have fallen from Thee by mine iniquity, and 
am by nature a son of death, and a thousand- 
fold more the child of hell, by my wicked prac- 
tice; but of thine infinite grace thou hast pro- 
mised mercy to me in Christ, if I will but turn 
to thee with all my heart; therefore, upon the 
call of thy gospel, I am now come in, and throw- 
ing down my weapons, submit myself to thy 
mercy. 

" And because thou requires t, as the condi- 
tion of my peace with thee, that I should put 
away mine idols, and be at defiance with all 
thine enemies, which I acknowledge I have 
wickedly sided with against thee ; 1 here, from 
the bottom of my heart renounce them all; 
firmly covenanting with thee, not to allow my- 
self in any known sin, but conscientiously to 
use all the means that I know thou hast pre- 
scribed, for the death and utter destruction of 
all my corruptions. And whereas I have for* 
merly, inordinately and idolatrously let out my 
affections upon the world, I do here resign my 
heart to thee that madestit; humbly protesting 
before thy glorious Majesty, that it is the firm 
resolution of my heart, and that I do unfeigned- 
ly desire grace from thee, that when thou shalt 
call me hereunto, I may practise this my resolu- 
tion, to forsake all that is dear unto me in this 
world, rather than turn from thee to the ways 



230 YEARLY COVENANT. 

cf sin : and that I will watch against all its 
temptations, whether of prosperity or adversity, 
lest they should withdraw my heart from thee ; 
beseeching thee also to help me against the 
temptations of Satan, to whose wicked sugges- 
tions I resolve, by thy grace, never to yield. 
And because my own righteousness is but men- 
struous rags, I renounce all confidence therein, 
and acknowledge that I am of myself a hopeless, 
helpless, undone creature^ without righteousness 
or strength. 

"And forasmuch as thou hast, of thy bot- 
tomless mercy, offered most graciously to me, 
wretched sinner, to be again my God through 
Christ, if I would accept of thee ; I call heaven 
and earth to record this day, that I do here so- 
lemnly avouch thee for the Lord my God ; and 
with all possible veneration bowing the neck of 
my soul under the feet of thy Most Sacred Ma- 
jesty, I do here take thee, the Lord Jehovah, 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for my portion ; 
and do give up myself, body and soul, for thy 
servant, promising and vowing to serve thee 
in holiness and righteousness, all the days of my 
life. 

" And since thou hast appointed the Lord Je- 
sus Christ the only means of coming unto thee, 
I do here, upon the bended knees of my soul, 
accept of him as the only new and living way. 



YEARLY COVENANT. 231 

by which sinners may have access to thee; and 
do here solemnly join myself in a marriage- 
covenant to him. 

" O, blessed Jesus ! I come to thee hungry, 
wretched, miserable, blind, and naked ; a most 
loathsome, polluted wretch, a guilty, condemn- 
ed malefactor, unworthy to wash the feet of the 
servants of my Lord, much more to be solemnly 
married to the King of Glory ; but since such 
is thine unparalleled love, I do here, with all 
my power, accept thee, and take thee for my 
Head and Husband, for better for worse, for 
richer for poorer, for all times and conditions, 
to love, honour, and obey thee before all others, 
and this to the death. I embrace thee in all 
thine offices : I renounce mine own un worthi- 
ness, and do here avow thee for the Lord my 
Righteousness : I renounce mine own wisdom, 
and do here take thee for my only Guide : I 
renounce mine own w T ill, and take thy Will for 
my law. 

" And since thou hast told me, I must suffer 
if I will reign, I do here covenant with thee, to 
take my lot, as it falls, with thee, and by thy 
grace assisting, to run all hazards with thee, 
verily purposing, that neither life nor death shall 
part between thee and me. 

" And because thou hast been pleased to give 
me thy holy laws, as the rule of my life, and the 
way in which I should walk to thy kingdom, I 



232 YEARLY COVENANT. 

e|o here willingly put my neck under thy yoke, 
and set my shoulder to thy burden, and sub- 
scribing to all thy laws as holy, just, and good, 
I solemnly take them, as the rule of my words, 
thoughts, and actions ; promising, that though 
my flesh contradict and rebel, I will endeavour 
to order and govern my whole life according to 
thy direction, and will not allow myself in the 
ueglect of any thing that I know to be my 
duty. 

" Now, Almighty God, Searcher of Hearts, 
thou knowest that I make this covenant with 
thee this clay, without any known guile or re- 
servation, beseeching thee, if thou espiest any 
flaw or falsehood therein, thou would discover 
it to me, and help me to do it aright. 

" And now, glory be to thee, O God the Fa- 
ther ! whom 1 shall be bold from this day for- 
ward to look upon as my God and Father ; that 
ever thou shouldst find out such a way for the 
recovery of undone sinners. Glory be to thee, 
O God the Son ! who hast loved me, and wash- 
ed me from my sins in thine own blood, and art 
now become my Saviour and Redeemer, Glory 
be to thee, O God the Holy Ghost ! who by the 
finger of thine Almighty Power hast turned 
about my heart from sin to God, 

" O dreadful Jehovah, the Lord God Omni- 
potent, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, thou art 
now become my covenant-friend, and I through 



YEARLY COVENANT. 933 

thy infinite grace, am become thy covenant- 
servant. Amen. So be it. And the covenant 
which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in 
heaven." 

In some instances, the preacher addresses the 
people thus — • 

" This covenant I advise you to make, not 
only in heart, but in word ; not only in word, 
but in writing ; and that you would with all 
possible reverence spread the writing before the 
Lord, as if you would present it to him as your 
act and deed : And when you have done this, 
set your hand to it: Keep it as a memorial of 
the solemn transactions that have passed be- 
tween God and you, that you may have re- 
course to it in doubts and temptations/' 

Then is sung; the following 



HYMN. 

" Come, let us use the grace divine, 

And all with one accord, 
In a perpetual covenant join 

Ourselves to Christ the Lord : 

Give up yourselves, through Jesu's po\ver> 

His name to glorify; 
And promise in this sacred hour 

For Gpd to live and die. 



£34 YEARLY COVENANT. 

The covenant we this moment make, 

Be ever kept in mind : 
We will no more our God forsake, 

Or cast his words behind. 

We never wrl} throw off his fear, 

Who hears our solemn vow : 
And if thou art well plcas'd to hear, 

Come down and meet us now ! 

Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost^ 

Let all our hearts receive ! 
Present with the celestial host, 

The peaceful answer give ! 

To each the covenant-blood apply, 

Which takes our sins away ; 
And register our names on high, 

And keep us to that day V 

The people then stand up, and lift their hands 
in token of their determination to serve the 
Lord from that time. 

" I swear, and from my solemn oath 

Will never start aside, 
That in God's righteous judgments 1 

Will constantly abide I 

The world's contempt of his command* 

But make their value rise 
In my esteem, who purest gold 

Compar'd with them, despise." 



YEARLY COVENANT. £35 

How far the foregoing covenant may be said 
to be a " tremendous blasphemy," I will not take 
upon me to say. People will form separate and 
different judgments on the matter, as they may 
he disposed to regard it in the light of a rational 
or spiritual form of self-dedication, or as a for- 
mulary unwarranted by the light of reason and 
the scriptures of truth. I have thought it my 
duty to give it to you verbatim as it is used by 
the Methodists; and I now leave it with your- 
self to assent, differ, or remain, like myself, 
neuter on the subject. So highly, however, is 
this form of covenant with the Almighty re- 
garded by many Methodists, that instances have 
occurred where, in the most solemn manner, it 
has been actually signed by the blood of the crea- 
ture, imagining that such a mode of ratification 
is required, from its analogy to the bloody seal 
of the Creator I!! The covenant-meeting is con- 
cluded, like others, with singing and prayer. 



I am, &c. 



236 



LETTER XXIV. 



Of the Society-meetings, 



DEAR MADAM, 

The members of the Methodist societies are 
composed of persons enjoying various degrees of 
moral attainments, or, as they express it, in dif- 
ferent states of grace. There are careless and 
lukewarm unbelievers, who have, nevertheless a 
sufficient hankering after Methodism to join 
the society ; and are so far moral in their con- 
duct, as not to merit excommunication. There 
are also awakened members, who, from some 
cause or other, have not experienced the new- 
birth. There are the penitents, or " mourners 
convinced of sin." Others are those who are 
not only convinced that they are sinners, and 
mourn on that account ; but are sunk to very 
considerable depths of sorrow; yet, being half 



SOCIETY-MEETINGS. 237 

inclined to think they shall not <c go sorrowing 
all their days," are denominated, " mourners 
brought to the birth." Others, again, are those 
who have stept into the glorious liberty of 
God's children, and know their sins to be blot- 
ted out of the book of the divine remembrance. 
It too frequently happens, that the vain allure- 
ments of the world — the smiles or the frowns 
of mankind — the force of unconquered habits — 
the rebellions of unsubdued lusts — and the dia- 
bolical instigations of their enemy, the devil — 
will all combine their baneful influences to in- 
crease the number of a fifth class of the mem- 
bers of the Methodist societies ; I mean the 
backsliders in heart : the open apostates are ei- 
ther forcibly expelled, or voluntarily withdraw 
from the connexion. Again; a sixth class of 
members, are those w r ho are " convinced of 
backsliding," and are undergoing the same in- 
ternal struggles, and spiritual conflicts, they ex- 
perienced before their first conversion. A se- 
venth class is composed of the " groaners for 
full redemption ;" that is, those who have the 
witness of the Spirit that they are pardoned ; but 
not satisfied with this, are earnestly seeking all 
the mind that was in Christ ; or, in other words, 
those whom nothing will satisfy but per- 
fection. The last class of Methodists I shall 
mention, is made up of the pure in heart — the 
sanctified— the saints that are already perfected 
4 



238 SOCIETY-MEETING^ 

la love ; who literally rejoice evermore, pray 
without ceasing, and in every thing give 
thanks. 

It being impossible in every instance to sepa- 
rate the precious from the vile ; the members 
composing these several sorts or degrees of Me- 
thodists, being promiscuously blended in the 
classes and bands, they are all met together, on 
a Sunday evening, immediately after public 
preaching; when the preacher gives them such' 
advice, &c. as their several states require. You 
must, however, understand, that they are not 
spoken to individually, as at a class-meeting; 
but are addressed from the pulpit in general, yet 
pointed, terms of reproof or advice. This is 
called the Society-meeting ; and is a very useful 
and proper mode of promoting the moral and 
spiritual good of the members. 

A society- meeting, however, is not confined 
to this object alone. At this time the preacher 
gives such general information respecting the 
state of the work in other parts, as he may have 
received. I Je reads any circular or other letters 
which he conceives will benefit or interest the 
members; in short, every thing that immedi- 
ately concerns the purely spiritual affairs of the 
whole society, is here made known to the 
people; who mourn or rejoice as the reports 
may be favourable or otherwise. Reports how- 
ever, of an unfavourable natuse seldom are inade ? 



SOCIETY-MEETINGS. 239 

as they would only teud to damp the fervour, 
and weaken the exertions, of the brethren. 

The following hymn is appropriate to a so- 
ciety-meeting. 



** Two are better far than one ? 

For counsel or for fight ; 
How can one be warm alone, 

Or serve his God aright ? 
Join we then our hearts and hands ; 

Each to love provoke his friend ; 
Run the way of his commands, 

And keep it to the end. 



Woe to him whose spirits droop ! 

To him who falls alone ! 
He has none to lift him up. 

To help his weakness on ; 
Happier we each other keep, 

We each other's burdens bear; 
Never need our footsteps slip, 

Upheld by mutual prayer. 

Who of twain has made us one, 

Maintains our unity: 
Jesus is the corner-stone. 

In whom we all agree : 
Servants of one common Lord, 

Sweetly of one heart and mind, 
Who can break a three-fold cord, 

Or part whom God hath join'd ? 



240 SOCIETY-MEETINGS,, 

O that all with us might prove 

The fellowship of saints ! 
Find supplied, in Jesu's love, 

What every member wants! 
Grasp we our high-calling's prize^ 

Feel our sins on eanh forgiv'n! 
Rise, in his whole image rise. 

And meet our Head in heav'n 1" 

When we consider the cementing tendency 
— the uniting influence— of these meetings, and 
these hymns, need we be surprised, Madam, at 
the union and increase of the Wesley an Me- 
thodists ? Here is every thing to warm the 
imagination — to inspire the affections — to en- 
gage the heart. All the generous passions of 
the soul, and all the tender sympathies of love, 
are here invited to share the sweets of benevo- 
lence — the mystic pleasures of devotion — the 
alluring anticipations of futurity, accompanied 
by the rapturous delights of present enjoyment, 
and the upholding influence of social inter- 
course. How far these apparent enjoyments are 
actually realized by the Methodists, I will in- 
quire, when I come to treat of their general 
character. In the mean time, I cannot help 
observing, on this occasion, the strong propen- 
sity to amplification, hyperbole, and exaggera- 
tion, which some of the younger preachers often 
manifest at a society-meeting. 



S0CIETI -MEETINGS. 241 

I have already said, that one part of the bu- 
siness of these meetings, is to relate to the 
people what information may have been ob- 
tained concerning the state of the connexion in 
distant towns, or in other countries. 

So desirous are the preachers of having it un- 
derstood that the cause in which they are en- 
gaged is always in a thriving, flourishing state; 
and at the same time, so natural is it for a man 
to believe whatever he wishes to be true, that 
a little amplification — a slight degree of extra 
colouring, is sometimes thought to be almost 
allowable, when a preacher is relating the state 
of religion, and the increase of its votaries. 
Such a practice, however, so nearly resembles 
lying for God, and doing evil that good may 
come, that I am sure the preachers, as a body, 
do by no means encourage it. This foolish 
propensity has been observed even by Mr, 
Wesley himself; and he has more than once 
been under the necessity of checking it among 
his preachers. Dr. Whitehead, also, seems to 
have witnessed something of this disposition 
towards enlargement of description in the 
Methodist preachers. 

But I will press this matter no farther. — 
Though I have often witnessed its existence 
with sorrow, I should hope it is not very 
common. It is a weak and childish prac- 



£4-2 SOCIETY-MEETINGS. 

tice, unbecoming the character of a man and 
a Christian ; and to which the Methodists, 
of all others, have the least occasion to re- 
sort. 

The society-meetings end with singing*; and 
it not u u frequently happens that several find 
peace on those occasions. 

Often do I reflect with no small pleasure 
on the ecstatic joy I have felt on hearing the 
accounts at a society-meeting. It was delight- 
ful to anticipate an approaching Millennium — 
to see the period at hand, when war and tumult, 
sin and misery, shall no longer desolate the 
earth; when universal peace, chanty, and 
good -will shall be established among man- 
kind ; when the whole race of men shall rally 
round the standard of Methodism, and every 
one, laying aside his prejudices, and his pride, 
shall exclaim — "This people shall be my people, 
and their God my God !" 



" O Jesus ! ride on, till all are subdued ; 
Thy mercy make known, and sprinkle thy blood ! 
Displa}" thy salvation, and teach the new song 
To every nation, and people, and tongue I" 



" How pleasant and sweet, 
In his name when we meet. 



SOCIETY-MEETINGS. 243 

Is his fruit to our spiritual taste ! 

We are banqueting here, 

On angelical cheer, 
And the joys that eternally last!" 

Such, Madam, are the effects — such the in- 
vigorating* sensations — produced at a meeting 
of the society. 



I am, &c. 



r2 



244 



LETTER XXV. 



0f the Quarterly Visitation of the Classes. 



SEAR MADAM, 

In the year 1742, commenced the quarterly vi- 
sitation of all the classes. Mi\ Wesley gives 
the following account of this visitation: — 

" As the society increased, I found it re- 
quired still greater care to separate the precious 
from the vile. In order to this, I determined, 
at least once in three months, to talk with every 
member myself, and to inquire at their own 
mouths, as well as of their leaders and neigh- 
bours, whether they grew in grace and in the 
knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ ? At these 
seasons, I likewise particularly inquire, whether 
there be any misunderstandings or differences 
among them ? that every hindrance of peace and 
brotherly love may be taken out of the way. 



VISITATION, &c. 245 

" To each of those, of whose seriousness and 
good conversation I found no reason to douht, 
I gave a testimony under my own hand, hy 
writing their name on a ticket prepared for that 
purpose ; every ticket implying as strong a re- 
commendation of the person to whom it was 
given, as if I had wrote at length-—" I believe 
the bearer hereof to he one that fears God and 
works righteousness." 

" Those who bore these tickets (these 2*5<x?oXa, 
or Tesserce y as the ancients termed them ; being 
of just the same force with the sTns-oXa* cu^nxa), 
commendatory Utters, mentioned by the apostle)^ 
wherever they came, were acknowledged by 
their brethren, and received with all cheerful- 
ness. These were likewise of use in other re- 
spects. By these it was easily distinguished 
when the society were to meet apart, who were 
members of it, and who not. These also sup- 
plied us with a quiet and inoffensive method 
of removing any disorderly member. He has 
no new ticket at the quarterly visitation (for so 
often the tickets are changed) ; and hereby it 
is immediately known that he is no longer of 
this community." 

That you may understand this very excellent 
regulation still more clearly, I here lay before 
you an exact representation of two of these 
tickets, viz. the common, or class-ticket, and a 
ticket for those who meet in band ; premising 



246 



VISITATION 



that the alphabetical letter, and the texts of 
scripture, are varied on every renewal of the 
tickets. 



A CLASS-TICKET* 



A BAND-TICKET. 



March, 1807. 

^"►V»'0<"'<>»' , ©"»<y'"0 , ~0 •»<>"«0»'< «•• 

That which ye have already, 
hold fast till I come. 

Rev. ii. 25. 



M 



J-N-l 



# ..»>««<>.i>.0«»<>....<>«i.<Vm.<>«'©."><V'< «• 



March, 1 807. 

y 

Thou art all fair, my love, «- 
there is no spot in thee. y 

Song of Sol. iv. 7. X 



M. b. 



M— N—i 

k 



These tickets are printed at the Conference- 
office, North-green, Worship-street, and are re- 
gularly sent to every town and village in the 
United Kingdoms which contains a Methodist 
society. 

The classes being now very numerous in al- 
most every town in the kingdom, it has become 
necessary for the preacher to notify from the 
pulpit, some time before the visitation, the par- 
ticular days on which he proposes to meet each 
of them severally. Accordingly, at the appoint- 



OF THE CLASSES. 247 

ed time, two, three, or more, of the classes, with 
their respective leaders, are convened at the 
chapel vestry, and, after singing and prayer, the 
preacher proceeds to receive the testimony of 
every individual present. He inquires how 
their souls prosper ; what advancement they 
make in the divine life ; or what occasion there 
may be for correction and reproof, or for the ex- 
pulsion of any of the members. 

While the member is answering his interro- 
gatories, he writes his or her name on the 
ticket, and in a very solemn manner presents it, 
with the requisite advice, &c. &c. 

For these tickets, the members are expected 
to pay about sixpence each, more or less, as 
may suit their several inclinations or circum- 
stances. 

In answer to a question, proposed the last 
conference, respecting further regulation in the 
financial affairs, they say : " We earnestly re- 
commend to all our societies, a strict compli- 
ance with that original rule of Methodism, 
which requires that each member shall pay, for 
the support of the work, at least one penny 
per week, and one shilling per quarter." It has 
hitherto escaped my observation, that it is an 
original rule of Methodism, for each member to 
pay, at least, one shilling per quarter, in addi- 
tion to the weekly class-money and such other 
contributions as th,e stated and contingent col- 



248 VISITATION 

lections in the chapels may demand. A rule 
of Methodism is a law of conference. 

This money is received by the preacher, and 
is afterwards deposited in the hands of the stew* 
ards, who are the treasurers of the society. 

u Now, Jesu, now thy love impart, 
To govern each devoted heart, 

And fit us for thy will ! 
Deep founded in the truth of grace, 
Build up thy rising church, and place 

The city on the hill." 

Now, Madam, should you hereafter be dis- 
posed to visit a Methodist chapel, and after the 
sermon is ended, should hear the minister en- 
tertain his audience for five or ten minutes, with 
a long list of names and dates, you will not be 
entirely ignorant of what is about to be trans- 
acted, when you hear him proclaim — " On Sun- 
day, the day of , immediately after 
morning preaching, I shall meet the following 
classes: Brother J. 's, Brother N.'s, and Brother 
W/s, After the noon preaching, Brother D.'s, 
Brother R.'s, and Brother F.'s two classes. On 
Sunday, the day of , imme- 
diately after evening preaching, Brother B. will 
meet Sister A.'s, Sister L.'s, and Sister B/s 
classes," &c> &c. &c, I say, Madam, on these 
occasions, you will hereafter be less fidgety and 
impatient during this ceremony, because you 



OF THE CLASSES. 24$ 

will be better acquainted wifn the nature and 
meaning of the long bead-rolls to which your 
attention will be called, after having heard a 
pressing Methodist sermon. 

It were to be wished the Methodists could 
select a more convenient season for these adver- 
tisements, than after their public services of 
preaching, &c. It is certainly very disagreeable 
to strangers, to be condemned either to leave 
the chapel before the benediction, or to wait 
while the minister reads a long list of names' 
and appointments, in which no one besides him- 
self and his brethren is in the least interested. 
This is peculiarly distressing, when it occurs on 
a cold winter's day, and, as is very commonly 
the case, when the strangers, sitting in the vi- 
cinity of the door, are nearly starved. It hap- 
pens too, sometimes, that they are farther morti- 
fied by the additional interruption of half a do- 
zen written notes of request from the sick, or 
of thanksgiving from the recovered. And when 
to all this is added one or two proclamations, 

that Brother intends, God willing, to 

preach a funeral or charity sermon that day 

w r eek, at Widow 's, in , or 

Brother 's, in — , the ceremony 

becomes absolutely intolerable, and is sometimes 
productive of much confusion and impatience. 
All these concurring hindrances happening on a 



250 VISITATION, SCC. 

collection-night, would exhaust the patience of 
the most forbearing. 

The distribution of tickets, and the quarterly- 
visitations, are, however, among the wisest and 
most politic institutions in the Methodist eco- 
nomy. I much question whether Solon himself 
ever made a wiser law, or Lycurgus devised a 
better statute. But, as the Wesley ans sing — - 

" Except the Lord conduct the plan, 
The best concerted schemes are vain, 
And never can succeed." 



I am, &c. 



251 



LETTER XXVI. 



Of Preaching, <Sfc. zvlth Specimens. 



I have now described to you, in as clear and 
Impartial a manner as I am able, almost all the 
different modes of worship or religious service 
which obtain in the Methodist connexion. On 
the two ordinances of baptism, and the Lord's 
supper, I have been silent, as those institutions 
are not observed in any manner peculiar to this 
people; neither are they, as yet, universally ad- 
ministered in the Methodist chapels. It only 
remains for me, on this head, to give you some 
account of their manner of conducting the con- 
stant public service of preaching, &c. 

The mode of conducting divine worship a- 
mong the Methodists, is of all others the most 
regular and simple, If their plan be defective 



252 PREACHING, &C. 

in any point, it is in not having the scriptures 
read to the people. This certainly ought never 
to be dispensed with. In every other respect, 
it is impressive and engaging in the highest de- 
gree. 

Here is no pomp; no idle parade; no vain 
shew of unmeaning ceremonies, nor irksomeness 
of tedious liturgies; all is simple and intelligible, 
agreeable to the easy decorum and decent order 
of a Christian temple, and a spiritual worship. 
It is not the least of its recommendations, that, 
although musical instruments are not generally 
permitted in a Methodist chapel to divert the 
attention from the inward contemplation of di- 
vine and spiritual pleasures, the charms of vocal 
melody warm the zeal, and animate the spirits, 
of the numerous worshippers. Hence it is, in a 
great degree, that the meeting-houses of the Me- 
thodists are always so well attended by hearers. 
Thousands, I make no doubt, repair to the 
meeting, as well as to the church, 

ie Not for the worship, but the music there." 

Public worship is begun by singing; the 
hymns being given out, line by line, by the 
preacher. After singing follows prayer; then 
singing again ; to which succeeds an extempore 
sermon; after this another hymn is sung; and 
the service is finally concluded by prayer, and 



PREACHING, &C. 253 

the customary benediction. The whole service 
usually lasts about an hour in the morning ; at 
noon, and in the evening, about an hour and a 
half. This, however, depends much upon the 
prudence, the zeal, the modesty, or the loqua- 
city, of the preacher. I have known the con- 
gregation kept in pain more than two hours. 
This service of the Wesleyans is, however, upon 
the whole, shorter and more simple than that of 
the Whitefieldians, or Calvinists, whose preach- 
ers are usually extremely tiresome. 

Mr. Adam Clarke, in his admirable " Letter 
to a Methodist Preacher," gives his brethren the 
following advice on this subject : " In whatever 
way you handle your text, take care when you 
have exhausted the matter of it, not to go over 
it again. Apply every thing of importance as 
you go along; and when you have done, learn 
to make an end. It is not essential to a sermon, 
that it be half an hour or an hour long. Some 
preach more in ten minutes than others do in 
sixty. At any rate, the length of time spent in 
preaching, can never compensate for the want 
of matter ; and the evil is double, when a man 
brings forth little, and is long about it. There 
are some who sing long hymns, and pray long 
prayers, merely to fill up the time : this is a 
shocking profanation of these sacred ordinances, 
and has the most direct tendency to bring them 
into contempt. If they are of no more import- 



254 SPECIMENS. 

an'ce to the preacher, or his work, than merely 
to Jill up the time, the people act wisely, who 
stay at home and mind their business, till the 
time in which the sermon commences. Have 
you never heard the following observation ? — 
' You need not be in such haste to go to the 
chapel : you will be time enough to hear the 
sermon, for Mr. X. Y. always sings a long 
hymn, and makes a long prayer." This is ex- 
cellent counsel, Madam ; but the Methodist 
preachers do not always attend to it. 

Many of the Methodist preachers shew consi- 
derable acuteness in the choice, and dexterity 
in the elucidation of their text. I have known 
the most quaint and out of the way passages 
chosen for the subject of a Methodist sermon. 
Such as, " Set on the great pot," — " Two legs 
and a piece of an ear/'&c. Mr. Clarke mentions 
two of his colleagues, iC who trifled away the 
whole year in this way." " Their texts," says 
he, "were continually such as these: c Adam, 
where art thou?' — ' I have somewhat to say unto 
thee.' — 'If thou wilt deal justly and truly with my 
master, tell me/ — ' 1 have put oflmy coat, how 
shall I put it on ?' — 'Thy mouth is most sweet,' 
&c." " These solemn triflers," adds Mr. Clarke, 
il did no good; and they are both, long since, 
fallen away." 

This gentleman seems to be aware of the fact, 
that many of these " solemn triflers" are stdl re- 



SPECIMENS. 255 

maining among the Methodists. It would be 
much to the credit of their cause, were they all 
' ! fallen away. " 

Notwithstanding Mr. Clarke's advice, many 
of his brethren still assume an air of importance 
while in the pulpit ; and have many fantastic 
attitudes ; being still afflicted with that species 
of paralysis termed St. Vitus s dance, as is evi- 
dent from their queer noddings, ridiculous stoop- 
ings, and erections of the body, skipping from 
one side to the other of the desk, knitting their 
brows ; with other theatrical and foppish airs. 
Yea, many do still flourish their handkerchiefs, 
and gaze about upon the congregation, before 
they begin their work. They still whisper in 
the beginning of their prayer, storm and bellow 
in the middle, and scream towards the end ; al- 
ways, however, losing their fervour when they 
come to repeat the Lord's prayer. 

Neither has this worthy and sensible man 
been more successful in reclaiming his fellow- 
labourers from the weak and childish practice 
of interlarding their discourses with quotations 
from the poets. To this practice, you, Madam, 
would probably have no objection; especially 
when you found that the muses had the merit of 
all that is really excellent iu the discourse, to 
the aid of which they are only dragged in as 
ornamental auxiliaries. 



256 SPECIMENS. 

The last time I had the honour of hearing a 
sermon by Mr. Benson, one of their most popu- 
lar preachers, 1 could not help remarking, that 
Thomson, Young, Blair, and Charles Wesley, 
contributed as much, or more, to that discourse, 
as the writers of the four gospels, or even St. 
Paul himself. It is true, Mr. Benson spouted 
well, and his favourite authors were introduced 
with spirit and grace. I must, however, be al- 
lowed to conjecture, that when Thomson wrote 
" The Seasons," Young " The Night Thoughts,'' 
and Blair " The Grave," none of them dreamed, 
poets as they were, that they were at that time 
composing Methodist sermons. 

Mr. Clarke very properly cautions his brethren 
against the common practice of treating a sub- 
ject " negatively and positively;" of "shewing 
negatively what a thing is not" and adduces the 
following instances of this injudicious mode of 
handling the word of God, which he says have 
come within the compass of his own observation. 
"A gentleman took for his text, Isa. xxviii. \6. 
* He that believeth shall not make haste.' On 
this he preached two sermons. His division was 
as follows : * I shall first prove that he who be- 
lieveth shall make haste : and, 2d]y, Shew in 
what sense he that beWkveih shall not make haste." 
On the first, which was a flat contradiction to 
the text, he spent more than an hour : and the 
4 



SPECIMENS. Q57 

congregation were obliged to wait a whole 
month before he could come back to inform 
them, that he who belie veth shall not make 
hasted 

" Another took his text from Psalm xxxiv. 19. 
* Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but 
God delivered! him out of them all' His divi- 
sion was as follows : * In handling this text, I 
will first prove, that there is none righteous: 
fdly, That the afflictions of the righteous are 
many : and, 3dly, That the Lord delivereth them 
out of them all i" 

I myself knew an instance of this kind, and 
from this very text, with only a slight variation 
in the words of the division. My champion, 
1. Enumerated the troubles of the righteous: 
Sdly, Proved " there is none righteous, no not 
one:" and, 3dly, Shewed how the Lord de- 
livereth them out of them all ! 

" Another took Luke, xii. 32. c Fear not, 
little flock ; for it is your Father's good pleasure 
to give you the kingdom/ In opposition to the 
letter of this text, the preacher laboured to 
prove, that the flock of Christ is not a little, 
but a very large flock : and in order to do this, 
brought in multitudes of pious heathens, vast 
numbers who sought and found mercy in their 
last hour, together with myriads of infants, 
idiots, &c/' 



25 S SPECIMENS. 

Instances of such glaring absurdity are not, 
however, very common; and when they do oc- 
cur, they are chiefly among the local-preachers, 
or the very young and very aged travelling- 
preachers. 

A disposition to allegorize and spiritualize the 
most plain and obvious texts, is not very uncom- 
mon with the Methodist preachers. 

I was informed a few years ago, by a very re- 
spectable and worthy gentleman, who was then, 
and is now, a preacher among the Wesleyan Me- 
thodists, that a certain preacher did actually al- 
legorize that passage in the 2 Kings, iv. 38. 
" Set on the great pot,*' something in the fol- 
lowing manner: The pot itself is the church 
— the meat in the pot, the word of God — and 
the broth the grace of God ! After having en- 
larged on these several heads, the preacher, in 
imagination and gesture, turned the pot upside 
down, and from the circumstance of its having 
three feet, placed in a triangular direction, took 
occasion thence to demonstrate the mystery of 
the Holy Trinity ! 

I could enumerate a variety of similar in- 
stances ; but I fear the disclosure would give 
pain to the minds of those preachers who so 
much despise this practice. They, however, 
are not themselves at all times over delicate in 
their representations and exposures; and I ho- 



SPECIMENS. 259 

Hour them for it : let them go on, until the 
" solemn triflers," are gone to rest with their 
forefathers, the allegorizers of the sixteenth cen- 
tury. 

Some of the preachers, who, though more ju- 
dicious in the choice of texts, and more rational 
in their explications, are nevertheless too much 
disposed to eke out a text into several divisions 
and subdivisions — to wire-draw and distort a 
passage, till every word, and almost every letter, 
like the well-known sermon on the word 
MALT, is made the subject of a division. — 
From numerous instances which have fallen 
within the compass of my own observation, the 
two following shall suffice : Ezek. xviii. 31* 
st Why will ye die?" Divided as follows; Why 
will ye die ? — Why will ye die ? — Why will ye 
die ? Again : Rev. iii. 20. " Behold, I stand at 
the door and knock : if any man hear my voice, 
and open the door, I will come in to him, and 
will sup with him, and he with me/' Divided 
as follows : (I.) Behold! (2.) 7" (3.) stand at 
the (4.) door and (5.) knock; if (6.) any man 
hear my (7.) voice, and (8.) open the door, (9.) I 
will (10.) come in to him, and will (11.) sup 
with him, and ( 12.) he with me. These, duly and 
appropriately subdivided, with an exordium, 
application, recapitulation, and conclusion, made 
up a sermon of no contemptible dimensions. 
The person who thus exhibited his skill in 

s 2 



260 



SPECIMENS. 



the rule of division, is at this time a travelling 
preacher ! 

The Methodist preachers have been accused 
of always preaching so as to inspire their hearers 
with terror and alarm. This is not the fact: 
they do often fall into the other extreme; and 
keep the congregation in a constant titter, dur- 
ing the whole sermon. They abound in witty 
sayings, smart repartees, and laughable anec- 
dotes. Some of them are little inferior, in these 
respects, to those merry preachers, who so 
powerfully excited the risibility of the Puritans 
during the reign of that profligate monarch 
Charles II. and tie hypocritical Protector, Oli* 
ver Cromwell. 

The practice of spiritual jesting, and pious 
punning, is, however, fast going to decline 
among the Wesleyan Methodists. Though some 
of their popular and eloquent preachers still 
occasionally indulge in this habit, it is not 
encouraged by their more serious and useful 
brethren. Mr, Samuel Brad burn, whose powers of 
oratory are neither few nor small, may be ranked 
among those preachers who take delight in see- 
ing their audience merry under the word ; while 
Mr. Adam Clarke, whose learning, zeal, and in- 
defatigable industry, do honour to his sect, 
would rejoice to see and hear of nothing but 
what is serious and becoming in a Christian mi- 
mister. Upon the whole, the Wesleyan preach- 



SPECIMENS. 261 

crs seem to be transferring their wit to their 
Calvinistic brethren ; who, with the boisterous 
and intolerant joker of Surry chapel at their 
head, are drawing thousands to their meetings 
hy holy mirth and devout jocularity. 

The Annual Reviewer, to whom I alluded in a 
former letter, asserts that the sermons of the 
Methodists are a seasoned with brimstone, and 
glowing with hell-fire." This is not always the 
case ; neither are the flames of hell, and the tor- 
ments of the damned, resorted to so frequently 
as they were by some of the early preachers. — 
They still, however, deal pretty largely in the 
terrors of the Lord ; and seek to draw back the 
wandering children of men to a sense of duty, 
by proclaiming that hell and damnation, devils 
and furies, brimstone and flames, tortures and 
torments without mitigation or end, shall ere 
long be commissioned by an angry God to pu- 
nish their numerous transgressions. 

That some of their sermons are still pretty 
highly " seasoned," the following quotations 
fully demonstrate. " A damned spirit" — " a 
devil damned," " in the abyss of perdition, in 
the burning pool, which spouts cataracts of fire 1" 
Ci Sinners may lose their time in disputing against 
the reality of hell-fire, till awakened to a sense 
of their folly, by finding themselves plunged into 
what God calls ' the lake that burns with fife 
and brimstone/ Many are desirous of seeing aa 
1 



%6% SPECIMENS. 

inhabitant of the other world, or thev wish to 
converse with one to know what passes there. 
Curiosity and infidelity are as insatiable as they 
are unreasonable. Here, however, God steps 
out of the common way to indulge them. You 

wish to see a disembodied spirit ? Make 

way ! Here is a damned soul, which Christ 

has evoked from the hell of fire! Hear him! 
Hear him tell of his torments! Hear him utter 
his anguish ! Listen to the sighs and groans 
which are wrung from his soul by the tortures 
he endures ! Hear him asking for a drop of wa- 
ter to cool his burning tongue ! Telling you 
that he is tormented in that flame ; and warn- 
ing you to repent, that you come not into that 
place of torture ! How solemn is this warning \ 
How awful this voice V " Hear the groans of 
this damned soul, and be alarmed !" 

Well, Madam, what think you? Have the 
Methodists forgotten to 

" — — - deal damnation round the land ?'* 

But what will you say, when I inform you, that 
the foregoing specimens are extracted fi;om a 
sermon, on Dives and Lazarus, printed the 
very last year, and written by Mr. Adam 
Clarke!! 

Loudly alarming as the language in these short 
extracts may appear, I do assure you, Madam, they 



SPECIMENS* Q63 

are gentle as the vernal spring, refreshing as the 
cooling breeze, and lulling as the gurgling ri- 
vulet, when compared to those thunderbolts of 
everlasting vengeance, which a certain method- 
istical Doctor sometimes hurls at the devoted 
heads of the poor Arians and Socinians ! 

This little man, with the most barefaced ef- 
frontery, and in direct opposition to all truth, 
common sense, decency, religion, and even the 
express rules of his own society, embraces every 
opportunity to make the pulpit a vehicle of abuse 
and insult, especially when what he chooses to 
call Arianism and Socinianism are concerned. 
The fourth clause in the 29th section of the 
General Minutes (Rules of Conference), express- 
ly provides, that " No person (among the Me- 
thodists) shall call another heretic, bigot, or any 
other disrespectful name, on any account, for a 
difference in sentiment.'* And in the third clause 
of Addenda to the 26th section, called " a Plan 
of General Pacification," it is said, " We (the 
Methodist preachers) all agree, that the pulpit 
shall not be made the vehicle of abuse." These 
identical rules and prohibitions are signed Tho- 
mas Coke, Secretary !!! As some extenuation, 
however, of the pious and consistent Doctor's 
conduct, I must not forget to inform you, that 
Arianism is expressly mentioned in these Minutes, 
as being a " pernicious doctrine ;" and that the 



264 SPECIMENS. 

431st hymn, in the Large Hymn Book, contains 
the following very liberal and pious peti- 
tions : 

" O ! might the blood of sprinkling cry, 
For those who spurn the sprinkled blood j 

Assert thy glorious Deity I 

Stretch out thy arm, thou Triune God, 

The Unitarian fiend expel, 

And chace his doctrine back to hell V 

So that, every thing considered, the good Doc- 
tor is not so highly culpable as one might at 
the first imagine. And he no doubt thinks he 
is doing God service, by thus damning the poor 
Unitarians. This being the case, I do not ex- 
pect the excellent Letter, lately addressed to 
him, by the Rev. Job David, of Taunton, Tvill 
have any very salutary effect ; more especially 
as his intolerant abuse is kept in countenance 
by the oratorical railing of Mr. Brad burn, and 
the declamatory powers, and even active exer- 
tions, of the Editor of the Methodist Maga- 
zine. 

" Where is the man, who, prodigal of mind, 
In one wide wish embraces human kind ? 
All pride of sects, all party zeal above, 
Whose guide is reason, and whose God is love^ 
Pair nature's friend, a foe to fraud and art — 
Where is the man, so welcome to my heart !"■ 

Lang horn lo 



SPECIMENS. 265 

Were I here to close my description, I am 
persuaded you would never, on any account, 
enter the door of a Methodist chapel. But as 
that would be an effect it is not my wish to pro- 
duce, I gladly call your attention to the favour- 
able side of the picture. 

When, Madam, you wish to see the most im- 
portant of all concerns engaged in with ardour 
and seriousness — when you feel yourself weary 
of the toil and drudgery of life, yet are still 
clinging to the soil from whence grows all your 
cares — when you would have your heart en- 
gaged, and your soul warmed with the love of 
religion, and the beauty of holiness — when you 
feel a more than ordinary hatred of moral evil, 
and wish to see the monster depicted and ex- 
posed in all its hideous deformity, go tp a Me- 
thodist chapel. See the zeal of the Wesleyans 
— listen to the representations of a blissful fu- 
turity — let all within you admire the union, the 
love, and affection, of those who are inquir- 
ing the way to Zion, w T ith their faces thither- 
ward ! I do not say you would not find these 
incentives to virtue and holiness at any other 
place of Christian worship, or that you actually 
require them ; but this I do say, that no body 
of Christians are more earnestly and sincerely 
engaged in the service of heaven than the Wes- 
ley an Methodists. Nor are they without preach- 
ers who would do honour to any party. The 



966 



SPECIMENS. 



learning and piety of Mr. Adam Clarke— the 
zeal and liberality of Mr. Jabez Bunting— the 
simple and unaffected devotion of Mr. Joseph 
Entwisle— and the blunt honesty of Mr. Joseph 
Bradford, are noble and honourable exceptions 
to the censure 1 have been impelled, by the de- 
mands of impartiality, to pass upon one or two 
of their brethren ; and I could mention the 
names of several others who are perhaps equal- 
ly deserving of praise* The very strenuous sup- 
port which most of the Methodist preachers 
give to the common notion of the eternity of 
hell-torments/ gives an unfavourable cast to 
their sermons, and leads them at times into heats 
and extravagances in the pulpit, which, on 
other occasions, they would disavow and ab- 
hor. 

The Methodists preach two, and in some places 
three, times every Lord's day, besides almost every 
evening during the week, either in the town 
where they are stationed, or in the surrounding 
country, which forms what is called a circuit, or 
round. The morning's discourse is usually address- 
ed, in a more pointed manner, to the members 
of the society. These discourses are often very 
excellent in their kind. They are generally up- 
on some moral or religious duty, and are of the 
most consoling and pressing nature. The even- 
ing sermons are either controversial, inviting, 
awakening, or alarming. It is at those seasons 



SPECIMENS. 267 

the sons of thunder officiously seek to light the 
flames of hell in the hearts of sinners — to acce- 
lerate the bolts of divine fury — and to point the 
barbed arrows of conviction to the souls of the 
wicked, the careless, and the unawakened. It 
is unnecessary for me to recommend morning 
preaching to your attendance. With respect to 
the hours of preaching, these vary in different 
places. The seven o'clock preaching is, how- 
ever, I believe, observed in almost all the large 
towns ; and the usual time of preaching in the 
evening is about five in the winter, and six in 
the summer season. I speak now of the Sunday 
services. The morning preaching on work- 
days is at five, winter and summer; and the 
field-preaching happens according to the fine- 
ness of the day, the state of existing circum- 
stances, and the zeal of the preacher. The fol- 
lowing is the rule concerning service in canoni- 
cal hours ; 

iC § XXIII. In what cases we allow Service in 
Church- Hours. 

" Q. 31. In what cases do we allow service 
in what are commonly called church-hours ? 

" A. When the minister is a notoriously wick- 
ed man. When he preaches Arian, or any equally 
pernicious doctrine. When there are not churches 
in the town sufficient to contain the people. 



£68 SPECIMENS. 

And when there is no church within two or 
three miles. And it is expected that every one 
who preaches in church- hours, will either read 
Mr. Wesley's abridgment of the common-prayer, 
or else the lessons for the day." 

Pray, Madam, suspend your inquiries a little, 
concerning the authority which a church of 
England minister has to alter or abridge the 
book of common-prayer. Who shall lay any 
thing to the charge of God's elect ? 



I am, &c. 



269 



LETTER XXVIL 



Of Prayer-leaders, Class-leaders, and Local- 
Preachers* 



DEAR MADAM, 

Having now, as I conceive, faithfully deline- 
ated all those associations which compose what 
may be denominated the spiritual economy of 
Methodism, I might proceed to describe the va- 
rious secular meetings, which form the outward 
discipline of its professors : but I must first 
make you acquainted with the different church- 
officers of which their assemblies are composed. 
These are six in number ; four of whom are lords 
spiritual; the remaining two belong to the 
lower house, but are of infinite weight and im- 
portance in the constitution of Methodism. I 
will treat of them in order; beginning, agreeably 
to my plan, with those of the lowest order. 



2/Q CHURCH-OFFICERS. 

I have already given you some account of 
the qualifications of a prayer- leader, or exhorter. 
These are men of very considerable service in 
the cause of Methodism. They are the hewers 
of wood and the drawers of water in the church ; 
men who labour incessantly for the conversion 
of souls. They employ themselves with un- 
wearied industry to gather people to the meet- 
ing. I have often known these men to go out 
in small parties, seeking opportunities of prayer 
and exhortation among their country neigh- 
bours. When one of these theological hunts 
takes place (and they used to be pretty frequent 
in some parts of the north of England), one of 
the party must be a smoker of tobacco ; (for the 
rule against smoking and ,snuff-taking is not 
often kept). It is this person's business, when- 
ever he comes to a place where he knows there 
are few if any Methodists, to call at some one 
of the houses, and to request the liberty of 
lighting his pipe. While he is performing this 
ceremony, his brethren are standing near the 
door. On some remarks being made by the 
smoker, on the heat or coldness of the weather, 
&c. it not unusually happens that the good 
people of the house will request him to take 
a chair and rest himself while he smokes his 
pipe. To this proposal he gladly accedes, and 
mentioning his friends at the door, they also 
are invited, and a familiar conversation soon 
3 



CHURCH-OFFICERS. SH 

takes place between the people of the house 
and their pious guests. While they are thus 
employed, some one of the party is looking 
round to see if there are any religious books 
on the tables or desks. In short, Madam, 
the subject of religion is some way or other 
introduced, and recommended to the affections 
of the people ; and if they happen to receive 
the counsels of the Methodists favourably, a 
prayer-meeting is soon begun at the house — ■ 
Methodism is introduced into the village — some 
of the people get converted ; these convert 
others — a class is formed of the new converts 
— the local preachers are appointed ; and if they 
succeed pretty well, an opening is made for 
their travelling brethren, and an out-pouring of 
the Spirit is the glorious consequence. Thus 
are the prayer-leaders employed, although, per- 
haps, not in every place exactly as I have been 
describing them, to pave the way for Methodism, 
where it would otherwise never be known. — 
Some of the prayer-leaders are also class-leaders. 
Of so much use are prayer-meetings to their 
cause, that to appoint them wherever they can 
make it convenient is an express rule of Con- 
ference. The prayer-leaders have meetings, 
composed of their own body, to consider of the 
nature and extent of their exertions, and of the 
best means of promoting their cause. 



272 CHUIICH-OFFICERS. 

The next order of men in the Methodist con- 
nexion are the class-leaders, who are usually 
chosen out of the body of prayer-leaders. With 
the business of these persons you are already ac- 
quainted. The following injunctions are laid 
upon the superintendants relative to them. 

" It is the duty of the superintendant to take 
care that the leaders be not only men of sound 
judgment, but men truly devoted to God* Let 
each of them be diligently examined concerning 
his method of meeting a class. Let this be 
done at the quarterly visitation of the classes* 
And in order to this, allow sufficient time for 
the meeting of each society. 

il Let each leader carefully inquire how every 
soul in his class prospers ; not only how each 
person observes the rules, but how he grows in 
the knowledge and love of God. Endeavour 
to make the meeting of the classes lively and 
profitable. Therefore change improper leaders. 
But in doing this, great care and tenderness 
must be used ; and it is highly necessary to 
consult the rest of the leaders on such occa- 
sions. 9 ' 

" It was agreed at the conference in 1797, that 
no person shall be appointed a leader or steward, 
or be removed from his office, but in cenj unc- 
tion with the leaders' meeting : the nomina- 
tion to be in the superintendant, and the ap- 



CriURCH-OFFlCERS. %7$ 

probation or disapprobation to be in the leaders' 
meeting. 

u Let the leaders frequently meet each others 
classes. 

" Let us observe which of the leaders are 
most useful, and let these meet the other classes 
as often as possible." 

These officers are, for the most part, chosen 
from among the brethren ; there are, however, 
not a few class-leaders in the sisterhood. 

The class-leaders are the body-politic ; the 
great representatives of the people ; and as you 
will have already observed, they are the princi- 
pal tax-gatherers in the Methodist government. 
That they are, therefore, of infinite importance 
to the cause, is very evident. An insurrection 
among the leaders would be attended with fatal 
consequences to Methodism. Out of this body 
are often chosen the local-preachers ; a species 
of officers in the Wesleyan church which I must 
next attempt to describe. 

In the early days of Methodism, all the lay* 
preachers might be called local-preachers ; for 
by this term is meant, in their vocabulary, all 
those preachers who follow some secular em- 
ployment for their livelihood; receiving no re- 
muneration at all for their ministerial services. 
These men are consequently employed on Sun- 
days only, except where the week-night preach- 

T 



274- CHURCH-OFFICERS. 

ing happens to be in the vicinity of their resi- 
dence. 

Their call to the ministerial office is both in- 
ward and outward ; the process being generally 
carried on somewhat in the following manner : 
After a person has been a regular member for 
some time, if he possesses a tolerable share of 
boldness, and can speak with moderate fluency 
before a number of persons at a prayer-meeting ; 
and especially if he be successful in making 
converts, it not unfrequently happens that a 
suggestion will arise in his mind, of his being 
called to preach the gospel. This, at first, is 
but a faint and transient thought, which vanishes 
on the least exertion of rational consideration. 
If the person thus acted upon be of rather a ti- 
morous disposition, or if he have a considerable 
share of natural modesty, the first thoughts of 
his becoming a preacher are repelled as sugges- 
tions of the devil, who thus seeks to draw him 
away from the humble simplicity of the gospel ; 
and desires to raise him up, that he may cast 
him down with greater force. If, however, the 
man's exertion in the prayer-meetings, or at 
class, are still attended with success, the in- 
ward motions to become a preacher will grow 
upon him ; they will return with redoubled 
strength on every repelling attack of reason, ti- 
morousness, or modesty. These though^ will 



CtitTRCH-OFFlCERS. 275 

cause him to be still more active in the way of 
exhortation, advice, &c. He will try his strength 
in the way of reproof wherever he has an oppor- 
tunity ; on some occasions the reproofs will have 
the desired effect in the conversion of the sin- 
ner; on others, they will re-act upon himself 
in quite a contrary manner, and bring upon 
him a greater or a less degree of persecution. Iri 
whatever way his reproofs operate, they tend to 
strengthen the thoughts of his having a calL 
If he is successful in his feeble attempts upon 
others, that is a sure indication that he was so 
employed by the motions of God's good Spirit* 
who speaks in him to the convinced sinner. If 
his reproofs produce an unfavourable effect, he 
remembers that the true prophets of the Lord 
must expect the bufferings of the enemy; and 
that to suffer persecution is a sure badge of clis- 
cipleship, as well as a strong mark of a true call 
to the ministry. 

It will often happen, that seme one or other, 
seeing the zeal and usefulness of this brother, 
will hint to him, that God has very likely 
more work for him to do in his vineyard. This 
is very often enough — this gives the final blow 
to all the revoltings of worldly prudence and 
carnal reason. 

If, however, some doubts should still remain 
upon his mind, they are removed, either by some 

T 2 



976 REMARKABLE DREAM. 

extraordinary dream, or by his having some text 
ofscripture applied to his mind, in a very power- 
ful manner : such as — " Woe is me if I preach 
not the gospel ;" " Go ye out into the highways 
and hedges, and compel them to come in;" 
" Behold I send you out as sheep among 
wolves/' &c. &c. Accidentally to open upon a 
text of this nature is a good prognostic of fu- 
ture public service in the church. 

As I have mentioned dreams bein^ some- 
times employed to thrust labourers into the vine- 
yard, I may be allowed to mention a case in 
point. Some time after 1 first joined the so- 
ciety of Methodists, I was induced, after a thou- 
sand inward conflicts, which affected my health 
not a little, to yield to the pressing solicitations 
of some of the brethren, and to try my powers 
of extemporaneous effusion, before a very crowd- 
ed audience ; but not succeeding exactly as I 
wished (though some of my friends told me 
it was only the pride of nature and the tempta- 
tions of the devil), I resolved to make no far- 
ther attempts ; until some time after, I went to 
hear a Mr. Thomas Wood, one of the travelling 
preachers, who assured me, in the presence of 
two or three others, that a few nights prior to 
his having seen me for the first time, at the 
preaching, he had dreamed, that a young man, 
of my name, had lately been converted to God 
among the Methodists ; that this young man 



REMARKABLE DREAM. 277 

was possessed of considerable talents; had, be- 
fore his conversion, been led to entertain some 
very erroneous opinions ; and that he was he- 
come a preacher of the gospel ! — This appeared 
very extraordinary; and what seemed to me to 
confirm the truth of Mr. Wood's statement, was 
his actually calling me bv my name, and appear- 
ing to know my person, although 1 was certain^ 
he could never before have seen me ; and he de- 
clared that no one had told him my name. 

Can you wonder, Madam, that after this, 
your humble servant should soon become a Me- 
thodist preacher ? But you will ask me, if I 
now believe the facts asserted by Mr. Wood ? I 
answer, I certainly do. Mr. Wood is a man of 
some learning, of unimpeachable integrity; and 
so much was he at that time averse to the en- 
thusiasm of some of the people, that 1 have often 
heard it asserted of him, that he was a back- 
slider in heart — a mere formalist, without any of 
the true spirit of revival. This gentleman is st'll 
living. 1 saw him a tew years ago at Manches- 
ter, where, before several of the preachers, he 
mentioned his extraordinary dream. You will 
smile at my credulity ; but 1 find an ins> perable 
objection to believe that Mr. Wood is capable of 
any species of known falsehood. And after all, 
the thing is not so wonder! ul as to render the 
belief of it impossible, 



•SfS DIFFIDENCE OF SOME MEN. 

AW dreams are more or less defective. In one 
instance, Mr. Wood's was particularly so : his 
young man possessing u very considerable ta- 
lents." In every other respect his ramblings of 
fancy were tolerably correct : for I had formerly 
entertained a very strong prejudice against the 
truth of Christianity ; and, at the time of the 
dream, had been recently converted to Me- 
thodism. 

A young man, who formerly resided at my 
house in. the country, was strongly convinced 
that he was called to preach the gospel ; but be- 
ing of an uncommonly timid disposition, as well 
as of a most unpromising address, he was never 
able to break through his timidity and bashful- 
ness; so that he actually threw himself into a 
consumption, and died in the work house, in 
the most abject state of poverty and distress. 

He was a vii jtuous and worthy young man ; 
but so much was he harassed with what he 
conceived to be an inward call to the ministry, 
that I have known him, after a restless and 
sleepless night, to throw himself across the bed, 
and there to lie, groaning and bemoaning his 
want of resolution the whole of the day. V J^ord, 
I am not eloquent !" — " Send me not against this 
people;" was his constant cry. But the more 
he sought to get rid of these impressions, the 
stronger they grew upon him ■; until it became 



LOCAL-PREACHERS. 279 

impossible for him to attend to his business, 
and he left my house to go to his own town, 
where he soon sunk under the weight of his 
conflicts. 

Many of the Methodists are not, however, so 
backward to do the Lord's work : the slightest 
impulse, and the most distant encouragement, 
will cause some of them to stand forward with 
boldness; saying, — " Here am I, Lord, send 
me!" 

The society are prudent enough not to accept 
the overtures of every one who may think he 
has the inward call; he must also have the 
outward call, or he is no true minister of 
Christ. 

The following are the rules respecting local 
preachers : — 



" Of the Local- Preachers, and their Meetings. 



" 1. The superintendant shall regularly meet 
the local preachers once a quarter, and no per- 
son shall receive a plan as a local-preacher, nor 
be suffered to preach among us as such, without 
the approbation of that meeting. Or, if in any 
.circuit a regular local-preachers' meeting cannot 
be held, they shall be proposed and approved 



^ 80 LQCA£-PREACHERS. 

at the general quarterly-meeting of the cir- 
cuit. 

" 2. All local-preachers shall meet in class. 
No exception shall be made in respect to any 
whq have been travelling preachers in former 
years. 

" 3. Let no local-preacher, who will not 
meet in class, or who is not regularly planned by 
the superintendant of the circuit where he re- 
sides, be permitted to preach. 

" 4. Let no local-preacher be permitted to 
preach in any other circuit than his own, with- 
out producing a recommendation from the su- 
perintendant of that circuit in which he lives ; 
nor sufrer any invitation to be admitted as a 
plea, except from men in office, who act in con- 
junction with the superintendant of that cir- 
cuit which he visits 

" 5. Let no local-preacher keep love-feasts, 
without the consent of the superintendant, nor 
in, any wise interfere with his business. Let every 
one keep in his own place, and attend to the 
duties of his station. 

11 6. No preacher who has been suspended 
or expelled, shall, on any account, be employed 
as a local-preacher, without the authority of 
Conference." 

Though some of the local- preachers are ex- 
tremely ignorant, they are, upon the whole, a 



LOCAL-PREACHERS. C81 

useful and valuable body of men ; and they are 
gradually improving in point of learning and 
abilities. I know one, however, at this time, 
who very lately knew not the use of a common 
English dictionary ; nay, there are some among 
them, I believe, that cannot read at all. 

The respectable local- preachers by no means 
despise human learning, nor neglect to avail 
themselves of every opportunity of cultivating 
it. From a tolerably extensive acquaintance 
with these men, I am well persuaded, that as 
they are more independent, so are they more 
useful in spreading the name, and promoting 
the influence,, of Methodism, than even the tra- 
velling preachers themselves ; who, many of 
them, to their great shame be it spoken, often 
act as if thev affected to despise them. In the 
circuit where I last resided, it was agreed, that 
when a local-preacher had an appointment 
which led him to the distance of six miles from 
his own home, he should be allowed what would 
defray the expense of horse- hi re, &c. But, as 
this money was to be raised by a subscription 
in the poor country places, to be made by the 
local preachers themselves, it almost always 
happened that these gentlemen had to defray 
their own costs; as they had not sufficient im- 
pudence to levy contributions upon the people, 
who they knew could scarcely afford to pay 
their weekly class-money; and who very oi'teu 



£§2 LOCAL- PREACHERS. 

had been pretty well drained by the travelling? 
preachers, by collections on sundry occasions, 
which I will explain to yon in a future Letter. I 
do not know what are the regulations in other 
towns ; but in the circuit to which I am allud- 
ing, if most of the local- preachers were not men 
of some little property, and. very willing to con- 
tribute every thing in their power to the cause 
in which they are engaged, both travelling and 
every other kind of preaching among the Me- 
thodists, would very speedily be at an end. 
I would hope some more equitable mode of pro- 
ceeding lias since been adopted. 

When it is considered that many of the local- 
preachers are not at all inferior to their travel- 
ling brethren, either in zeal, piety, usefulness, 
or learning, it is a most flagrant abridgment of 
their Christian liberty, as well as an insult to 
their character and judgment, that they are ne- 
ver, on any account, admitted into the sanctum 
sanctorum — a yearly conference. 

The travelling-preachers have, doubtless, good 
and sufficient reason for thus shutting the con-* 
ference doors against their local brethren ; lest r 
therefore it should be imperiously and pettishly 
demanded of me, as it is of the Annual Reviewer, 
respecting Kingswood-school— <c What right 
have you, Sir, to meddle about the rules of con- 
ference ?"— I will say no more on this priestly 
law. I .must, however, be permitted to add, that 



EXTRACT, &C. 283 

in an address to conference, written by one of 
the local preachers a few \ears ago, it is asserted 
that they (the travelling preachers) are extreme- 
ly God-like — their ways, in many instances, be- 
ing past finding out. 

Fro.n the body of local-preachers are chosen 
the travelling, or, as a country friend of mine 
used to call them, the gentlemen preachers. 

1 will close this account of the local preachers 
with one or two extracts from a publication en- 
titled, " The Methodist Monitor," published 
in the year 1796*. 

ce There seems something contaminating in 
the ministry. While a man follows a lawful 
trade, and preaches the gospel among us, he re- 
mains on a level with his brethren. But take a 
number of persons of this character, from a va- 
riety of places, and let them travel in union with 
the itinerant preachers, and you will soon per- 
ceive what rapid progress the spirit of priest- 
craft generally makes in their hearts. There 
may be exceptions. Some think them but 
few." 

" At present, they (the local preachers) go to 
break up new ground, as it is called, and after 
they get a congregation established, and see 
some fruit of their labour, the travelling -preach - 
^rs are introduced, and form classes immediate- 
ly. A gre.t number of places have been opened 
Jt^iis way. With. propriety they might say, 'We 
2 



£S4» EXTRACT FROM THE 

have laboured, and they have entered into the 
fruits of our labours/ 

' • It would be impossible to support the cause 
without local-preachers. They are numerous 
in many circuits, and all employed. They preach 
a great deal more than the circuit preachers. If 
it were not for their labours, the people would 
be in a very trying situation." 

" If matters were brought to this alternative, 
that either the travelling or the local preachers 
must be parted with, it would be easy to deter- 
mine which could be best spared. The people 
would suffer no loss, comparatively speaking, by 
all the travelling preachers being dismissed, from 
what they would sustain by all the local preach- 
ers being silenced ; because it would be easy to 
fill up the places of the former out of the body 
of the latter, with men every way as acceptable 
preachers, and for considerable less expense. 
Because, if they were ever so disposed, it would 
be several years before they became as much ef- 
feminate — as afraid to go out in a stormy day — 
as indifferent about supplying the circuit — as 
expensive in their houses, &c. — or, to speak all 
in one word, as much gentlemen as many of the 
tra veiling- preachers are/' . 

I do both hope and believe, that some of the 
insinuations in the latter part of this extract are 
both illiberal and unjust. This writer, consider- 
ing St. Paul as a kind of Methodist local preach- 



METHODIST MONITOR. 285 

er, thus indulges his fancy in describing him 
and his labours : — 

u I often fancy in my own mind, when St. 
Paul first went to Athens, that he had not a good 
coat to put on, nor was he able to appear de- 
cent in public without his cloak ; which he once 
forgot, and desired his son in the gospel to 
bring to him. With a knapsack on his shoulders, 
rilled with tools for making tents, his books, 
and provisions, he entered that populous city. 
Having just as much iii his purse as would pay 
for his lodgings that night, and as much bread, 
&c. in Ids scrip, as served for his breakfast, he 
was obliged to look out for a job of tent- making 
or mending, to keep body and soul together. 
After he had been sweating at work, as he re- 
turned to his lodging, he saw an inscription 
upon one of their altars — ' To the Unknown 
God.' While he refreshed himself with the fruit 
of the labours of the day, and performed the 
other duties necessary to fit him for public com- 
pany, he digested his subject, and prepared to 
give the Athenians a lecture. He repaired to 
Mars- Hill, and preached to the wise philoso- 
phers and others, that frequented that place. 
When he had finished, several were ready to dis- 
pute with him ; and some went so far as to pro- 
pose giving him a second hearing; but we do 
not read of any offering him a night's lodging, 
or the least refreshment. The apostle, however, 
1 



286 EXTRACT, $tC. 

greatly rejoiced that his own hands were able to 
administer to his own necessities." 

Whether, if St. Paul were now living, he 
would become a local-preacher, go to dispute 
at the Old 'Change, or settle upon a curacy in 
the church of England, I will not undertake to 
determine; but it is evident, that every sect 
seems desirous of having it thought he would 
be on that side to which each member now at- 
taches himself. 

The local-preachers, in these kingdoms, and 
on the continent of America, amount to about 
four thousand in number. 



I am, &c. 



$87 



LETTER XXV1IL 



Of Travelling Preachers — Specimens- 
Trustees — Stewards. 



DEAR MADAM, 

During the lifetime of Mr. Wesley, such per< 
sons were admitted itinerant preachers as he 
himself might think proper to raise to that high 
office. His well-known credulity introduced 
many persons who proved a disgrace to Method- 
ism ; but since his decease, more caution has 
been observed in transplanting the brethren 
from their humble stations as local preachers* 
Stijll the door of Methodism is very wide, and 
various are the ways by which a local preacher 
may become an itinerant ; as the people have 
not the power of choosing their own ministers* 
The writer I quoted in my last Letter states the 
following :— 



288 TRAVELLING PREACHERS. 

" V says he, " as an assistant, may wish to 
have the honour of sending many labourers into 
the vineyard of Christ, and therefore thrust out, 
against the minds of the people, such men as are 
unfit for the work, to gratify my vanity. Or, I 
may like to lounge at home with my family, 
when I ought to go to disagreeable or distant 
places, and appoint a local preacher to supply 
for me. He does it cheerfully, hoping one good 
turn will make way for another. When he has 
hacked about for me throughout the year, as a 
reward for his services, I get him a place among 
the travelling preachers, without stooping to 
ask at a quarterly-meeting, whether it will be 
suitable or not. Or, I may see a man that has 
not attended well to his business, and is on the 
border of being a bankrupt, and does not know 
what to turn his hand to. His pitiful stories 
may work upon my passions, and, without con- 
sulting with the people in the circuit where I la- 
bour, I may get him accepted both at the dis- 
trict-meeting and at the conference. " 

These hindrances to a pure ministry have been 
in some measure removed by a law made in the 
year 1797, requiring every candidate to be ap- 
proved of at a quarterly-meeting. The follow- 
ing are the rules on the admission of perons to 
become travelling- preachers :— 



TRYING CANDIDATES, &C. 2SQ 



" § III. The method of trying Candidates for 
the Ministry* 

" Q. 3. How shall we try those who think 
they are moved by the Holy Ghost to preach the 
gospel ? 

<k A. Inquire, Do they know God as a par- 
doning God ? Have they the love of God abid- 
ing in them ? Do they desire and seek nothing 
but God? And are they holy in all manner of 
conversation ? Have they gifts as well as grace 
for the work ? Have they a clear, sound under- 
standing? Have they a right judgment in the 
things of God ? Have they a just conception 
of salvation by faith ? And has God given them 
an acceptable way of speaking ? Do they speak 
justly, readily, and clearly ? Have they had any 
fruit of their labour? Have any been truly 
convinced of sin, and converted to God by their 
preaching? 

" As long as the above marks concur in any 
one, .we believe he is called of God to preach. 
These we receive as sufficient proof, that he is 
moved thereto by the Holy Ghost. 

" Before any one can be received even upon 
trial among us, it is necessary, that he should 
have been a member of the society for some 
considerable time ; that he should have acted 

u 



290 TRYING CANDIDATES 

as a local-preacher ; that he should he recom- 
mended hy the quarterly-meeting to the dis- 
trict-meeting, and by that to the conference: 
and at the conference in 1797, it was agreed, 
that before any superintendent propose any 
preacher to the conference as proper to be ad- 
mitted on trial, such preacher must not only be 
approved of at the March quarterly-meeting, 
but must have read and signed the General Mi- 
nutes, as fully approving of them. Nor must 
any one suppose, or pretend to think, that the 
conversations which have been on any of these 
minutes were intended to qualify them, as in 
the least to affect the spirit and design of them. 
That he should then travel four years upon trial, 
during which time he must not marry. And 
being well recommended by the people where he 
has laboured, and by the preachers who have 
laboured with him, he shall then be received 
into full connexion. The proper time for doing 
this is at a conference. After serious solemn 
prayer, the following questions shall be proposed 
to each candidate, which he shall be required to 
answer as in the presence of God : — 

" Have you a lively faith in Christ ? Do you 
enjoy a clear manifestation of the love of God to 
your soul ? Have you constant power over all 
sin ? Do you expect to be perfected in love 
in this life? Do you really desire and earnestly 
seek it ? Are you resolved to devote yourself 



FOE THE MINISTRY. 291 

wholly to God, and to his work ? Do you know 
the Methodist plan of doctrine and discipline ? 
Have you read the plain account of the Me- 
thodists ? The appeals to men of reason and 
religion ? Do you know the rules of the society 
and of the bands ? Are you determined by the 
help of God to keep them ? Do you take no 
snuff, tobacco, or drams ? Have you read and 
seriously considered the minutes of the confer- 
ence ? Especially, have you considered the rules 
of a helper ? And above all, the first, tenth, and 
twelfth, and will you keep them for conscience 
sake? Are you determined to employ all your 
time in the work of God ? Will you preach every 
morning and evening, when opportunity serves, 
endeavouring not to speak too long or too loud ? 
Will you diligently instruct the children where 
you can? Will you visit from house to house 
where it may be done ? Will you recommend 
fasting and prayer, both by precept and ex- 
ample ? Are you in debt ?" 

"Having answered the above questions to our 
satisfaction, we then give him the minutes of the 
conference inscribed thus : 

To A. B. 
" You think it your duty to call sinners to 
repentance. Make full proof hereof, and we 
shall rejoice to receive you as a fellow-la- 
bourer." 

u2 



$9% BUSINESS OF A 

11 We have been disappointed by married 
preachers coming out to travel, in expectation 
of being themselves able to maintain their wives 
independently of the conference, who veiy soon 
became entirely dependent. How shall this be 
prevented ? Let no preacher be received on 
this plan, unless he can bring in writing such 
an account of his income, signed by the super- 
intendent, as shall satisfy the conference. And 
if any person shall promise to maintain a 
preacher's wife, or children, he shall give a 
bond to the conference for the sum he intends 
to allow/' 

" Every preacher, before he is admitted into 
full connexion, shall write an account of his 
life, and give it to Mr. Story," (at that time Edi- 
tor of the M. Magazine). 

Mr. Wesley appointed one of the preachers in 
each circuit to assist in governing the societies 
in the places where they were stationed. The 
other preachers were called Helpers. The assist- 
ant is now denominated the Superintendent. 

The office and duties of a superintendent arc 
as follow. 



" § V. The peculiar Business of a Superintendent, 

i( Q. 6. What is the business of a superin- 
tendent ? 



SUPERINTENDENT. 2$3 

" A. To see that the other preachers in his 
circuit behave well, and want nothing. He 
should consider these (especially if they are 
young men), as his pupils: into whose behavi- 
our and studies he should frequently inquire; 
and at proper times should ask, Do you walk 
closely with God? Have you now fellowship 
with the Father and the Son? At what hour 
do you rise ? Do you punctually observe the 
morning and evening hour of retirement? Do 
you spend your time profitably? Do you con- 
verse seriously, usefully, and closely ? Do you 
use all the means of grace yourself, and enforce 
the use of them on all other persons ? These 
are either instituted or prudential, 

" I. The instituted are these : 

{i 1. Prayer: in private, in the family, and in 
public ; consisting of deprecation, petition, in- 
tercession and thanksgiving. Do you use each 
of these ? 

" Do you use private prayer every morning 
and evening at least; if you can, at six in the 
evening, and the hour before or after morning 
preaching? Do you forecast daily, wherever 
you are, how to secure these hours ? Do you 
avow it every where? Do you ask every where, 
Have you family prayer ? Do you retire at six 
o'clock ? 

" 2. Searching the scriptures, 1, By reading 
constantly, some part every day, all the Bible, 



2£4< BUSINESS OF A 

in order, carefully, seriously, and with earnest 
prayer, before and after, and do this fruitfully, 
immediately practising what you learn there. 

2, Meditating, at set times, by a fixed rule. 

3, Hearing the, word preached at all opportu T 
nities, carefully, with earnest prayer to God for 
a blessing upon his word. Have you a New- 
Testament always about you ? 

" 3. The Lord's Supper. Do you use this at 
every opportunity ? With solemn prayer, and 
with earnest and deliberate self-devotion ? 

"4. Fasting. Do you fast every Friday? 
The neglect of this is sufficient to account for 
our feebleness and faintness of spirit. We are 
continually grieving the Holy Spirit by the ha- 
bitual neglect of a plain duty ! Let us amend 
from this hour. There are several degrees of 
fasting which cannot hurt your health. Begin 
next Friday, and avow this duty wherever you 
go. Touch no tea, coffee, or chocolate in the 
morning; but if you want it a little milk, or 
water-gruel. Dine on potatoes ; and if you 
want it, eat three or four ounces of flesh in the 
evening. But at other times eat no flesh-sup- 
pers. These exceedingly tend to breed nervous 
disorders. 

" 5. Christian conference. Are you convinced 
how important, and how difficult it is to order 
your conversation aright ? Is it always in grace, 
seasoned with salt, meet to minister grace to the 



SUPERINTENDENT. 2Q5 

hearers ? Do not you converse too long at a 
time? Is not an hour commonly enough? — 
Would it not be well always to have a deter- 
minate end in view? And always to conclude 
with prayer? 

" II. Prudential means, we may use either 
as common Christians, or as preachers of the 
gospel. 

" 1. As common Christians. What particular 
rules have you in order to grow in grace? 
What arts of holy living ? 

"58. As preachers. Do you meet every so- 
ciety, also the leaders, and the bands, if there 
are any ? Do you live in holy watchfulness ; 
denying yourself; taking up your cross ; and in 
the exercise of the presence of God ? Do you 
steadily watch against the world, the devil, 
yourself, and your besetting sin ? Do you deny 
yourself every useless pleasure of sense, ima- 
gination, and honour ? Are you temperate in all 
things ? Instance in food ? Do you use only 
that kind, and that degree, which is best both 
for your body and soul ? Do you see the ne- 
cessity of this ? Do you eat no more at each 
meal than is necessary? Do you eat no flesh 
suppers, and no late suppers ? Do you use only 
that kind and degree of drink which is best 
both for your body and soul ? Do you drink 
water, or wine, or ale ? Do you want these ? 



296 BUSINESS OF A 

" Wherein do you take up your cross daily? 
Do you cheerfully bear your cross (whatever is 
grievous to nature) as a gift of God, and labour 
to profit thereby ? 

• ' Do you endeavour to set God always before . 
you ? To see his eye continually fixed upon 
you ? Never can you use these means but a 
blessing niust ensue. And the more vou use 
them the more you will grow in grace. 

" A superintendent ought also to visit the 
classes quarterly, to regulate the bands, and to 
deliver tickets. To take in or to put out of the 
society, or the bands. At the conference in 
J 797, it was agreed that the leaders' meeting 
shall have a right to declare any person on trial, 
improper to be received into the society : and 
after such declaration, the superintendent shall 
not admit such person into the society. And 
no person shall be expelled from the society for 
immorality, till such immorality be proved at a 
leaders'-meeting. To keep watch-nights and 
love-feasts. To hold quarterly-meetings, and 
there diligently to inquire both into the tempo- 
ral and spiritual state of the societies. To take 
care that every society be supplied with books. 
To send to London a circumstantial account 
of every remarkable conversion, and of every 
remarkable death. To take an exact list of all 
the societies in his circuit once a year. To meet 



SUPERINTENDENT. 297 

the married men and women, and the single 
men and women, in the large societies once 
a year, and to over- look the accounts of the 
stewards. 

" The following advices are recommended to 
all the superintendents. 

" Leave your successor a regular catalogue of 
all the societies in the circuit. See that every 
band-leader has the band-rules. Calmly and 
vigorously enforce the rules concerning need- 
less ornaments, drams, snuff, and tobacco. 
Give no hand-ticket to any person who does 
not promise to leave them off. As soon as 
there are four men or women believers in any 
place, put them into a band. Suffer no love- 
feast to last more than an hour and a half: And 
instantly stop all from breaking the cake with 
one another. Warn all from time to time, that 
none are to remove from one society to another, 
without a certificate from the superintendent in 
these words : 'A. B. the bearer, is a member of 
our society in C. I believe he has a sufficient 
reason for removing.' Every where recommend 
decency and cleanliness. Cleanliness is next to 
godliness. Read the thoughts upon dress once 
a year in every large society. In visiting the 
classes be very mild, but very strict. Give no 
ticket to any who follow the foolish fashions of 
the world. Meet the bands once a week, and 
keep a love-feast for them only, once a quarter. 



298 Business of a helper. 

Exhort every believer to embrace the advantage. 
Give a band-ticket to none, till they have met a 
quarter on trial." 



" § IX. The proper Business of a Helper. 

" Q. 9. What is the particular business of 
those preachers who do not act as superin- 
tendents ? 

" A. To feed the flock, by constantly preach- 
ing morning and evening. To meet the society 
and the bands weekly. To meet the leaders 
weekly. To preach every morning where he 
can have twenty hearers; but where he cannot, 
then to sing and pray with them. And to do 
any other part of the work which the superin- 
tendent may desire him to do. 

" Q. 10. Should any of our preachers follow 
trades? 

" A. The question is not, whether they may 
not occasionally work with their hands, as St. 
Paul did : But whether it be proper for them to 
buy or sell any kind of merchandize ? It is fully 
determined, that this should not be done by 
any preacher, no not the selling of pills, drops, 
or balsams." 

As I wish to give you a general view of the 
whole system of Methodism, I have been parti- 

4 



TRUSTEES, &C. 299 

cular in detailing the rales by which their officers 
are appointed and governed. 

Circumstances of rather a disagreeable nature 
having sometimes taken place among the preach- 
ers, it is become necessary to enforce the follow- 
ing advice — " Converse sparingly and cautious- 
ly with women, particularly with young wo- 
men." 

The travelling preachers in these kingdoms 
are in number about five hundred, and in America 
also about five hundred ; making the total num- 
ber of Methodist preachers, including the local 
brethren, in the Wesleyan connexion only, about 
five thousand. These gentlemen (the travelling 
preachers), says Mr, Kilham, who had himself 
travelled several years, " have access within the 
veil, and should they write what they have seen 
and heard, it would amazingly affect the whole 
body of the people." 

In the year 1739:, the first Methodist preach- 
ing-house was built at Bristol. It was settled 
by Mr. John Wesley on eleven feoffees. Being 
soon convinced, by a letter from Mr. Whiten* eld, 
that these men had too much power, and that 
they could even turn both himself and his 
preachers out of the chapel, he called them to- 
gether, cancelled the writings, and took the 
whole management respecting the building into 
his own hands. 



300 TRUSTEES 

Soon after, he got a form of trust-deed drawn 
up for the settlement of the preaching-houses. 
This trust-deed, with only a few alterations and 
additions, is still in use among his followers. 

It would be tiresome in the extreme to lay 
before you the words of this instrument. It 
provides, that the persons in whose trust the 
chapels are vested, shall admit such preachers as 
shall be appointed at the yearly conference, and 
no others, to have and enjoy the chapels, &c. 
provided always, that the said persons preach 
no other doctrines than those contained in Mr. 
Wesley's Notes on the New-Testament, and his 
four volumes of sermons. 

The stewards of the society are of two orders, 
town and circuit. The town-stewards have the 
management of what more immediately concerns 
the business of the society in the town • and the 
circuit-stewards superintend the temporal con- 
cerns of the country societies belonging to their 
respective circuits. 

The trustees are not, in every instance, re- 
quired to be members of the society; yet it is 
always desirable to have them men at least well- 
disposed towards Methodism ; otherwise their 
powers being extensive, they might do great 
mischief, by cramping the authority and in- 
fluence of the preachers. 

The rules of the stewards are: " J. Be frugal 



AND STEWARDS. 301 

— Save every thing that can be saved honestly. 
52. Spend no more than you receive — Contract 
no debts. 3. Have no Ions; accounts — Pay 
every thing within the week. 4. Expect no 
thanks from any man." These rules were parti- 
cularly adapted to the state of the society in 
London, at the time they were first made by Mr. 
Wesley. They are not now always attended to ; 
particularly in what relates to the weekly pay- 
ment of all monies, Sec. 

You are now, Madam, I hope, pretty well ac- 
quainted with the duty and business of the dif- 
ferent officers, both spiritual and temporal, which 
are appointed to govern the church of the Me- 
thodists. When I have described to you their 
various secular associations, I will proceed with 
the history before and after the death of Mr. 
Wesley. 



I am, &c. 



302 



LETTER XXIX. 



Of Meetings for Business-^Leaders ' -meetings— < 
Quarterly-meetings — District -meetings — Con- 
ference* 



DEAR MADAM, 

T he Leaders '-meetings are held once every week. 
The superintendent presides at them as a kind 
of chairman. Into his hands the different lead- 
ers pay their respective collections of class- 
money. At this meeting the preacher looks 
over the several class-papers ; when, by the num- 
ber of Ps, As, Is, or blanks, which are to be 
found in the several squares and columns, he 
sees, at one view, which of the members have 
been present or absent; who have paid, and 
who have not. By this admirable regulation, 
the preacher is enabled to exhort, reprove, re- 
buke, or praise, the several members of his 
church ; and by this he is also enabled to form 



QUARTERLY-MEETINGS. 303 

a judgment of each persons's zeal and attention 
to the great concerns of his own mind, and to 
the society to which he belongs. 

At a leaders'-meetiug, almost every other 
temporal concern of the society may be in- 
vestigated. 

The friends of the late Mr. Alexander Kil- 
ham thought that the leaders'-meetino* had not 
sufficient power and weight in managing the af- 
fairs of the society; but the conference have 
since extended the power of that meeting; and 
it now seems to have a pretty fair and adequate 
share in the management of the connexion, and 
in checking the power and influence of the 
preachers, with respect to the admission and re- 
jection of members, the sending out preachers 
to travel, &c. 

The Quarterly -meetings are composed of all 
the travelling- preachers in the circuit where 
such meetings are held ; of the leaders and stew- 
ards of the society ; and of such of the local- 
preachers and members as may be invited by 
any of the travelling-preachers or stewards. 

At this meeting, the whole of the society's 
books are audited; the preachers paid their re- 
spective salaries ; and such other receipts and 
disbursements settled as circumstances may re- 
quire, or the finances permit. In some circuits, 
a dinner is provided at the quarterly-meetings, 



304* local-preachers' meetings. 

when, if there be no jarring- strings, much so- 
ber pleasantness and hilarity takes place. The 
quarterly- meetings are often followed by a 
watch-night. 

The Local -pre etchers' meetings are usually held 
once every quarter of a year. At these times 
their plans are renewed, and such arrangements 
made as are necessary for the furtherance of the 
work. A local- preacher's plan, is a paper pro- 
perly divided and subdivided into columns and 
squares, on which the names of all the preachers 
are inserted, the respective places of their preach- 
ing-appointments, and the dates of the month; 
by which it is known at what time and at what 
place each of the brethren is to officiate. — 
One of these plans is given to every local- 
preacher. 

As the societies continued to increase, the 
circuits became both more numerous and ex- 
tensive: it consequently was more difficult for 
Mr. Wesley and the assistants to manage so 
vast a concern. That the government might be 
carried on with success, the kingdom was divid- 
ed into districts ; each district comprehending 
two, three, or more circuits. Over each of these 
united methodistical provinces or states, there is 
appointed a kind of supreme governor, called 
the Chairman of the District, who has a power 



DISTRICT-MEETIXGS. 305 

of assembling all the preachers in full connexion, 
i. e. who have travelled four years, in his domi- 
nions, to form a district-meeting, which has au- 
thority, 1. To try and suspend preachers who 
are found immoral, erroneous in doctrine, or de- 
ficient in abilities. 2. To decide concerning 
the building of chapels. 3. To examine the de- 
mands from the circuits respecting the support 
of the preachers, and of their families. And, 
4. To elect a representative to attend and form 
a committee four days before the meeting of the 
conference, in order to prepare a draft of the 
stations of the preachers for the ensuing year. 
These are the general matters which form the 
business at a district-meeting. These districts 
have, however, several other powers, privileges, 
and immunities, which make them of very con- 
siderable consequence in working the great ma- 
chine of modern Methodism. The additional 
laws and regulations which are yearly taking- 
place in this and in almost every other depart- 
ment, render it difficult to define all the power 
and influence of the districts. If the confer- 
ence proceed in enacting law T s at the rate they 
have done of late, a few years hence the gene- 
ral minutes must be little inferior in bulk to the 
statutes at large ; and it will be as difficult to 
tell what is law and what is not, in the court of 
Methodism, as in the high court of chancery, or 
any other circumlocution register- office in Great 

x 



306 s 



CONFERENCE, 



Britain. This is pretty clear, that every 
circuit is a kind of parish, where the superin> 
tendent is rector or vicar ; every district a 
diocese, over which the chairman is hishop ; and 
the conference a sort of conclave, or general 
council. The chapels in the large towns may 
be called methodistical cathedrals ; those in the 
surrounding villages, parish-churches, and the 
consecrated barns, out-houses, &c. &c. so many 
chapels of ease. 

I hasten, with pleasure, to conduct you to 
conference, to which, as a kind of theological 
watering-place, all the beaux and belies, the old 
men and matrons, among the Methodists, resort 
in shoals, that they may have their natural pro- 
pensity to novelty gratified for a season, by the 
glorious sight of hundreds of priests; that they 
may catch the healing virtues of grace, as they 
drop from the lips of a favourite preacher, or 
descend in torrents from an inspired multitude ; 
and that they may be near the fountain-head of 
intelligence, ready to join in the disputes, or 
to participate in the union, of all their bre^ 
thren. 

The first conference was held in London, on 
the 25th of June, 1744. There attended six 
clergymen and four travelling preachers ; all of 
whom, with only, I believe, two exceptions, 
afterwards forsook the Wesleys, either from not 



CONFERENCE. 307 

liking their proceedings, or from a want of 
zeal. 

At the early conferences were settled what 
doctrines the Methodists should preach ; what 
plans they should pursue to spread their tenets ; 
and what regulations were necessary to preserve 
union among those persons who had already be- 
lieved : so that the minutes of those conferences 
may now be referred to, in case of any dispute^ 
as so many decrees of council. 

Since the death of Mr. Wesley, according 
to Mr. Myles's account, when the preachers 
assemble, the first thing they do is to elect a 
president and secretary, which is done by ballot. 
[Who has the nomination of candidates?] The 
minutes of the districts are then read over : after 
which the conference proceeds to inquire— 

I. What preachers are admitted into full con- 
nexion ? 2. Who remain on trial? 3. Who are 
admitted on trial ? 4. Who desist from travel- 
ling? 5. Who have died this year? 6. Are 
there any objections to any of the preachers ? 
(They are then named one by one ; examined they 
cannot properly be said to be, as no one besides 
themselves are admitted within hearing of this 
farcical naming). 7. How are the preachers 
stationed this year? 8. What numbers are in 
the societies ? 9- What is the Kingswood col- 
lection? 10. What boys are received this year? 

II, What girls are assisted? 12. What is con- 

x3 



30S CONFERENCE. 

tributed for the yearly expenses ? 13. How was 
it expended? (This question may be properly 
answered; but the answer is never published — 
or at best, in a very partial and imperfect man- 
ner). 14. What is contributed for superan- 
nuated preachers and widows ? 15. What de- 
mands are there upon it? i6\ How many 
preachers' wives are to be provided for ? 17. By 
what societies? 18. When and where may our 
next conference begin ? 

The above, and such other questions as cir- 
cumstances may require, are made the subject of 
an annual Methodist conference. Every old law 
is repealed (if any laws are ever repealed by the 
Methodist government), and all new ones pro- 
posed and enacted in the form of question and 
answer. Acts of conference may very properly 
be called, The Assembly's Catechism. 

The conference, considered in a legal sense, 
consists of one hundred preachers, who were 
iirst chosen by Mr. Wesley, empowering them 
to fill up all vacancies in their body, occasioned 
by death or otherwise, by an election by bal- 
lot. 

One of the many treacherous friends of the 
late Mr. Kilham, who is to this day a travelling 
preacher, thus divulges 

" The secrets of the prison house:" 

In a letter addressed to Mr. Kilham, prior to 



CONFEREXCF. 309 

that gentleman's trial and subsequent expulsion, 
Mr. J. Crowther represents their proceedirgs as 
an " annual sublime sight of six or seven men, 
getting round the table at conference, and fight- 
ing with each other, talking by turns (except 
when several of them talk together), engrossing 
all the speechifying ; while the rest sit round in 
sullen, stupid, or indignant silence — the devil 
perching on the front of the gallery • while love, 
meekness, and wisdom, together with our guar- 
dian angels, and even the Holy Ghost, quit the 
assembly; and the confused group appears to 
the weeping heavens, somewhat like the assem- 
bly in a cock-pit.' 

As this gentleman has never yet been called 
to account for this representation, which was 
published a few years ago, I should suppose it is 
a tolerably just picture : but having myself been 
only a local brother, I have not had an opportu- 
nity of seeing the original. It is, however, but 
just to give the counter part of this representa- 
tion. They describe themselves at conference, 
as doing every thing as in the immediate pre- 
sence of God : that they meet with a single eye, 
and as little children, who have every thing to 
learn : that every point which is proposed may 
be examined to the foundation : that every per- 
son may speak freely whatever is in his heart ; 
and that every question which arises may be 
thoroughly debated and settled. They say that 



310 CONFERENCE. 

they act upon the grand principle of private 
judgment, on which all the reformers proceeded 
— " Every man must judge for himself, because 
every man must give an account to God." These 
were their professions at the first conference, and 
the present race of Methodists pretend to act 
upon the same liberal principles. 

At the forty-ninth conference, held in 1792, 
which sat nearly three weeks, the brethren pro- 
posed the following question : " What shall we 
do more to promote the work of God? — Ans. 
We do, at this solemn hour of the night, (past 
ten o'clock, on the 15th of August) devote our- 
selves to the service of Almighty God, in a more 
unreserved and entire manner than ever we have 
hitherto done; and are all determined to spend 
and be spent in this blessed work. And this 
our solemn dedication of ourselves to God, we 
do unanimously signify, by rising from our seats 
in the presence of the Lord." 

Mr. Crowther's letter, which speaks of the 
absence of love, meekness, wisdom, the guardian 
angel?, and the Holy Ghost; and of the devil 
perching on the front of the gallery at one 
of these conferences, is dated January 12, 
1794 !!! 

At the fifty sixth conference, held at Man- 
chester, in M99, I was present when Mr. Sa- 
muel Bradburn, being president, preached the 
conference- sermon, from these words in the se- 



CONFERENCE. 311 

cond and third verses of the IQGth psalm : — 
" Then said they among the heathen, The Lord 
hath done great things for them. The Lord 
hath done great things for us; whereof we are 
glad." After the worthy president had dis- 
charged his pious virulence against the Kil- 
hamites, who had separated themselves from the 
connexion, he called upon every preacher pre- 
sent who was still determined to be on the 
Lord's side, to signify that determination, by then 
publicly rising from his seat. As Mr. Bradburn 
pronounced the word of command, he suddenly 
clapped his hands; and in the same moment the 
preachers, being placed in the front seats of the 
gallery, and other conspicuous parts of the 
chapel, rose up as one man ! They continued 
on their feet a few* seconds — the president was 
silent — the most rapturous sensations and en- 
thusiastic ardour were diffused throughout the 
whole congregation — some, nearly fainting with 
delight, fell back in ecstacies ; others loudly ex- 
claimed, "Glory be to God ! Glory be to God [* 
and had not the chief actor in this scene inter- 
posed, by requesting the brethren to sit down, 
I am confident there had been no more occa- 
sion for the preacher that day. I sat in the gal- 
lery, and heard a female voice, from the farthest 
corner of the chapel, cry out with all her might, 
" Come and pray for a soul in distress !" so that 
it appeared the exhibition had produced sensa- 



312 CONFERENCE. 

tions of a painful nature upon some stranger 
who happened to be present. The chapel was 
exceedingly crowded indeed. 

From these circumstances, Madam, one would 
be led to hope that Mr. Crowther must have 
mistaken the spirit and conduct of his speechi- 
fying brethren, at that sublime sight — an an- 
nual conference. 

I would recommend it to conference, to pub* 
lish Mr. B.'s sermon of \799, with a plate, in- 
troduced in that part of the discourse where he 
gives the all-commanding clap of his hands. 
As the thing itself was performed in the pre- 
sence of hundreds of strangers, there could be 
no danger in publishing an engraved drawing 
of the exhibition, of thereby casting pearls be- 
fore swine. 

When will " solemn trifling," and "theatrical 5 * 
manoeuvres be excluded from the pulpit ! When 
will modesty and Christian simplicity take place 
of high-sounding professions, and boisterous 
declamation ! — That Mr. Brad burn is capable of 
better things, is evident from the following ad- 
vices which he drew up for the conduct of the 
preachers during the time of the sitting of con- 
ference : — 

" Be tender of the character of every brother, 
but keep at the utmost distance from counte- 
nancing sin. 



CONFERENCE. 313 

u Say nothing in the conference but what is 
strictly necessary, and to the point in hand. 

" If accused by any one, remember, recrimi- 
nation is no acquittance, therefore avoid it. 

11 Beware of impatience of contradiction; be 
firm, but be open to conviction. The cause is 
God's, and he needs not the hands of an Uzzah 
to support the ark. The being too tenacious of 
a point, because you brought it forward, is only 
feeding self. Be quite easy if a majority decide 
against you. 

11 Use no craft or guile, to gain a point. Ge- 
nuine simplicity will always support itself. But 
there is no need always to say all you know or 
think. 

" Beware of too much confidence in your own 
abilities, and never despise an opponent. 

" Avoid all lightness of spirit, even what would 
be innocent any where else. ' Thou God seesfe 



me. 



I cannot but exclaim, with Young — 

How poor, how rich, how abject, how august, 
How complicate, how wonderful, is Man I 

The answers which are given to two or thre* 
of the conference-questions, are worthy of par- 
ticular remark. 

H 1. What preachers are admitted into full 
connexion?" You have already observed, Ma- 
dam, that every travelling-preacher is to be four 



314 CONFERENCE. 

years on trial before he is admitted into full con- 
nexion. To be in full connexion, has some very 
capital advantages. 1. Relating to marriage. 
A person cannot marry among the travelling- 
preachers, until he is admitted into full con- 
nexion. This may be sound policy with the 
Methodists ; but it is both unjust and unscrip- 
tural. It savours too strongly of popery ; and 
it is no wonder that effects of a most scandalous 
and disgraceful nature should sometimes be the 
result of so cruel a law. 2. As. it relates to 
power and authority. Until a preacher is ad- 
mitted to full connexion he is not eligible to 
any post. He can neither be made a superin- 
tendent, nor a chairman of the district ; neither 
can he, being only a probationer, have any vote 
or influence at conference, nor consequently be 
elected on any conference-committee ; nor de- 
rive any advantage from the sale of the society's 
books in his circuit. These are considerations 
of no small importance. 3. Until a preacher 
has travelled four years, he is liable to be dis- 
missed from the service, without that formal 
trial which the other preachers might demand. 
So that you see, Madam, while a preacher is on 
trial, he may be said to stand in jeopardy every 
hour, as a slight offence given to the superin- 
tendent might be attended with very fatal con- 
sequences to the probationary preacher, 



CONFERENCE. 315 

I have the honour to know a very respectable 
dissenting minister, who once travelled among 
the Methodists; but was expelled for marrying 
before the expiration of his years of probation.. 
The language of St. Paul is very strong against 
the doctrine of forbidding to marry. How far 
it will apply to a certain law of Methodism, the 
reflecting mind will judge. 

The following extracts from the minutes of the 
last conference, shall close my account of the 
meetings both for worship and business, which 
are established in the Methodist connexion:—- 



£i The Sixty -third General Conference of the 
People called Methodists, late in connexion 
with the Rev. John Wesley, deceased, held in 
Leeds by several Adjournments, from July 
28, to August^ 1806. 

4i We are happy in having it in our power to 
inform our readers, that all our affairs, temporal 
and spiritual, at this conference, were transact- 
ed with the utmost peace and harmony ; and 
that the accounts received from different parts 
of the United Kingdom, as well as from the West 
India islands, and from America, afford ample 
proof of the great prosperity of the work of God, 
in general, among us. In Great Britain, the 

1 



316 MINUTES OF 

numbers in society have received an increase of 
more than eight thousand souls last year, and 
fifty new chapels are erecting, or appointed to 
be erected. Some of the manufacturing districts 
have been peculiarly favoured ; and a multitude 
have been converted to the Lord. In one lar^e 
village, in the West of Yorkshire, in particular, 
almost the whole of the inhabitants have been 
brought under good impressions. In North and 
in South Wales, the work continues to revive 
and prosper, and it has been conducted with a 
degree of order which affords us the greatest 
consolation. 

" In many parts of Ireland, also, much good 
has been done, through the preaching of the 
word. A spirit of hearing has been excited m 
the minds of people of almost all descriptions, 
insomuch that no inconveniences of time or si- 
tuation could prevent hundreds, in various 
places, from assembling in the streets, to hear 
the gospel of Christ. These encouraging open- 
ings, we have reason to believe, will be fol- 
lowed up by the brethren, and will, we doubt 
not, be productive of the greatest benefit to man- 
kind. 

" Our great doctrines were ao-ain taken into 
serious consideration ■ and, for their security, 
three of the brethren were appointed to draw 
up a digest, or form, expressive of them, con- 
firmed by a sufficient number of texts of Scrip- 



CONFERENCE. 317 

ture, properly selected ; a copy of which form 
or digest, is ordered to be sent to the chairman 
of each district before next May. 

" We are happy to observe, likewise, that a 
plan for the improvement of the young preach- 
ers was laid before the conference, the heads of 
which were ordered to be printed, and a copy 
thereof sent to every preacher, that the brethren 
may have the opportunity of considering it ma- 
turely at their next district-meetings, and may 
report their collective judgment concerning it to 
the ensuing conference. 

" Matters of discipline also engaged the pecu- 
liar attention of the preachers ; and from the 
sundry regulations made respecting this, we se- 
lect the following : — 

" Q. 24. How may the union of the brethren, 
who labour together in the same circuit, be 
more effectually promoted ? 

" A. 1. The conference insists, that no helper 
shall countenance or encourage any person who 
opposes the superintendent, in the proper dis- 
charge of his official duties, according to our 
rules. 

" 2. We advise the brethren to meet toge- 
ther once a week, or as often as it is practicable, 
in order to converse freely with each other, re* 
specting the affairs of their circuits. 



318 MINUTES OF 

" Q. 25. Is any advice necessary respecting 
the Lord's supper ? 

" A. 1. We once more earnestly beseech all 
the members of our societies, conscientiously to 
attend this sacred ordinance of God our Savi- 
our, at every opportunity ; and do entreat them 
to approach the Lord's table, at least, once in 
every month, either in our own chapels, or else- 
where; and to make a point of staying till the 
whole service be concluded. 

" 2. In the visitation of the classes, let every 
preacher closely examine the members on this 
head, and strongly ehfoice our rules concerning 
it. And, in order to remove every excuse, let 
this blessed sacrament be regular!]/ and fre- 
quently administered, wherever it has been ap- 
pointed by the conference. 

" Q. 26. Can any advice be given concern- 
ing the mode of conducting the Sunday-service 
in our chapels? 

" A. We insist upon it, that the Holy Scrip- 
tures shall be constantly and statedly read in 
public, wherever we have preaching in the fore- 
noon of the Lord's day. Our fixed rule -is, that 
6 Wherever divine service is performed by us 
in England, on the Lord's day, in church-hours, 
the officiating preacher shall read either the 
service of the established church, our vener- 
able father, Mr. Wesley's Abridgment of it, or at; 



CONFERENCE. 319 

least the Lessons appointed by the Calendar.'— 
See the Minutes of 1795. 

" Q. 31. What can be done to prevent extra- 
vagant and costly dress? 

u A. Let us all enforce our rules concerning 
dress; and, with love and meekness, endea- 
vour to put an end to every unjustifiable cus- 
tom. 

" Q. 32. One of the standing rules of our so* 
cieties expressly prohibits ' the buying or selling 
uncustomed goods." How may this rule be 
more fully enforced ? 

"A. Let our old minute on this subject, be 
executed with respect to every species of smug- 
gling. It is as follows, viz. 

" Q. How shall we put a stop to smug- 



p;lin£? 



" A. 1. Speak tenderly and frequently of it in 
every society near the coasts. 

" 2. Carefully disperse Mr. Wesley's 'Word 
to a Smuggler.' 

" 3. Expel all those who will not leave it 
off. 

" 4. Silence every local preacher who de- 
fends it. 

w There were present at this conference of 
the Methodists about 240 itinerant preachers, 
and an amazing concourse of people; probably 
on some days, especially Sunday, August 3, not 



320 MINUTES OF 

fewer than fifteen or twenty thousand. The ef- 
fects of this clay's solemnities, we douht not, 
will be found after many days. Tuesday, Au- 
gust 5, in the evening, was appointed by the con- 
ference for the admission, and solemn dedica- 
tion to God, of the candidates for the ministry. 
They had been examined in private by the pre^ 
sident, and in full conference. A crowded au- 
dience was present in the chapel. The young 
men were in the front seat of the gallery. They 
were called, in succession, to give an account 
of their experience, and the ground on which 
they exercised the office of the Christian minis- 
try. The examination concluded with appro- 
priate addresses by the president, and Mr. Tho- 
mas Taylor, when the young men were com- 
mended to God by solemn prayer. 

* Thirty- two preachers have been admitted 
into full connexion this conference, having been 
four years on trial. 

" There remain still on trial, ninety-four, 

having not yet completed their four years. 

Admitted on trial, forty-five. Ten of the 

preachers died the last year." 



I am, &Co 



321 



LETTER XXX. 



Progress of Methodism in the Field of Battle- 
John Nelson — Preachers' Talents — The Ch?is- 
tlan Library — Great Labours — Liberality — - 
IUiberdlityi 



In the year 1745, the spirit of Methodism had 
not only spread over the greatest part of these" 
kingdoms ; but had also found its way into 
the English army abroad. Societies were formed 
by the soldiers, and some of the dragoons had 
begun to preach ! John Haime, William Cle- 
ments, and John Evans, were all three courage- 
ous soldiers, both in the service of the king, 
their master, and in that of the King of kings. 
In the hottest moments of battle, when the 
swift-winged messengers of death were flying 
about with desolating velocity ; when the de- 
mons of destruction were stalking around ; and 
when the shrieks of the wounded and the groans 

X 



322 METHODISM IN THE 

of the dying, were unheard amidst the tremend- 
ous roar of cannon, and the sickening clangour 
of martial music — these men were heard to en- 
courage each other with loud assurances of soon 
meeting the face of their Saviour in " another 
and a better world !" 

William Clements writes as follows, after the 
battle of Fontenoy — " On the 29th, we marched 
close to the enemy, and when I saw them in 
their camp, my bowels moved toward them, in 
love and pity for their souls. We lay on our 
arms all night. In the morning, April 30th, 
the cannons began to play at half an hour after 
four : and the Lord took away all fear from me ;. 
so that I went into the field with joy. The balls 
flew on either hand, and men fell in abundance; 
but nothing touched me till about two o'clock. 
Then I received a ball through my left arm, and 
rejoiced so much the more. Soon after, I re- 
ceived another into my right, which obliged me 
to quit the field. But I scarce knew whether I 
was on earth or in heaven. It was one of the 
sweetest days I ever enjoyed." 

John Haimesays, "The Lord has been pleased 
to try our little flock, and to shew them his 
mighty power. Some clays before the late battle, 
one of them, standing at his tent-door, broke 
out into raptures of joy, knowing his departure 
was at head* anc l v/as so filled with the love of 
Crcd, that he danced before his comrades. In 



FIELD OF BATTLE. 3%3 

the battle, before he died, he openly declared, 
' I am going to rest from my labours in the bo- 
som of Jesus.' I believe nothing like this was 
ever heard of before, in the midst of so wicked 
an army as ours. Some were crying out in their 
wounds, ' I am going to my Beloved ;' others, 
* Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly;' and many 
that were not wounded, were crying to their 
Lord to take them to himself. There was such 
boldness in the battle among this little despised 
flock, that it made the officers, as well as com- 
mon soldiers, amazed. And they acknowledge 
it to this day. As to my own part, I stood the 
fire of the enemy for above seven hours. Then 
my horse was shot under me ; and I was ex- 
posed both to the enemy and our own horse. 
But that did not discourage me at all ; for I 
knew the God of Jacob was" with me. I had a 
long way to go, the balls flying on every side ; 
and thousands lay bleeding, groaning, dying, 
and dead on each hand. [Ye gods, what ha- 
voc does ambition make among your works !] 
Surely I was in the fiery furnace; but it never 
singed one hair of mv head. The hotter it grew, 
the more strength was given me. I was full of 
joy and love, as much as I could well bear. Go- 
ing on, I met one of our brethren with a little 
dish in his hand, seeking for water. He smiled, 
and said, he had got a sore wound in his leg, 
y 2 



$%&. JOHN NELS02T. 

I asked, 'Have you got Christ in your heart f 
He answered, ■ I have, and I have had him all 
the day. Blessed be God, that I ever saw your 
face/ Lord, what am I that I should be counted 
Worthy to set my hand to the gospel plough ? 
Lord, humble me, and lay me in the dust !" 

John Evans belonged to the train. At the 
battle of Fontenoy, one of his companions saw 
him laid across a cannon (both his legs having 
been taken off by a chain-shot), praising God, 
&c. until he fell down dead ! 

One John Nelson, a stone-mason, who had 
been pressed for a soldier, refused at the same 
time to be an ambassador from the Prince of 
Peace and to choose the weapons of his war- 
fare from among the carnal instruments of 
death. 

John very justly thought, that a fighting 
minister of the gospel would be a strong con- 
tradictory character; and as he was resolved to 
preach, so he refused to fight. Which of these 
Methodist soldiers acted the most consistent 
part, I leave to the decision of those who can 
fully comprehend the meaning of that prohibi- 
tion in the gospel — " Put up thy sword into its 
place ; for every one that taketh the sword 
shall perish with the sword." 

Mr. Weslev, encouraged bv the accounts 
^hichhe every day received of the wonderful 



preachers' talents. 325 

success of his and his assistants' labours, pro- 
ceeded with increasing ardour in the business of 
proselytism. He rejoiced in the work of his 
hands, and he thought his spiritual sons who la- 
boured with him in the gospel were men of a 
most extraordinary character. He saw multi- 
tudes added to his societies wherever they went; 
but he knew they were men of no education, 
having been taken from the meanest and most 
common occupations, to become ministers of 
the gospel. Their abilities, as Methodist preach- 
ers, were certainly great. Considered in any 
other capacity, than as tradesmen, labourers, 
mechanics, and Methodists, their talents were 
quite mediocre. Mr. Wesley was aware of this; 
-and foresaw much reproach would fall upon his 
cause, unless something were done to enlighten 
and instruct his lay-preachers. He wished to 
have them. " workmen that needed not be 
ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 
We have already seen how far some of the breth- 
ren succeeded in dividing the word ; whether they 
do it rightly or no is another question. That the 
early preachers were men of very scanty literary 
attainments, will admit of no doubt ; and it is 
to be feared, that the plan of instruction which 
Mr. Wesley laid down for their improvement, 
was not very likely to expand their views be- 
yond the sphere of their own notions in theo- 
logy, or their favourite prejudices in politics.—^ 



326 THE CHRISTIAN LIBRARY. 

Indeed, as to general politics, the Methodists 
have never, as a body, known any thing about 
the matter. 

It is much to the honour of Mr. Wesley, that 
lie previously consulted that very excellent and 
worthy man, Dr. Doddridge, on the choice of 
books for the perusal of his lay- preachers. Af- 
ter some time, the Doctor sent him a list of 
such theological books as he thought would be 
of service to them. These Mr. John Wesley 
thought proper to garble, mutilate, and abridge, 
to make them speak, in every point, his own 
sentiments. He then published them at his own 
press, in fifty duodecimo volumes, under the 
title of " The Christian Library." 

I believe, comparatively few of the present 
Methodist preachers have ever read all the vo- 
lumes of the Christian Library. The collection 
abounds with much sound practical morality, 
such as you may suppose the author of the Rise 
and Progress of Religion in the Soul would re-? 
commend. They are chiefly the works of the 
most eminent Puritan divines. Dr. Doddridge, 
in his answer to Mr. Wesley's letter which re- 
quested his assistance in the compilation of 
books for this undertaking, writes of himself 
thus : " I trust I can call God to record, on 
my soul, that to bring sinners to believe in 
Christ, and universally to obey him, from a prin- 
ciple of grateful love, has been the main busi- 



THE CHRISTIAN LIBRARY. S27 

ness of my life/* The man who could thus 
write, would be cautious how he selected books 
for the improvement of others. 

It never was Mr. Wesley's intention to make 
scholars of his lay-preachers. The great bulk 
of Methodists, to this day, have a sort of dread 
of human learning. The preachers may raise 
an outcry against this charge ; but it is never- 
theless just, as every one who has been at all 
conversant with the private manners of this 
people must acknowledge. The majority of 
Methodists, notwithstanding the present much 
improved and refined state of the connexion, 
are still to be sought for among persons in the 
lowest ranks of life, and these have nearly as 
strong an aversion to what they call head- 
knowledge, as any of their brethren in the life- 
time of Mr. Wesley. A local-preacher whom I 
know, was a few years ago forbidden to preach 
at one of the places in his circuit, because he 
spoke rather better English than did the rest of 
his fellow-labourers in the same place ! If such 
be the character of the Methodists at this day, 
what must it have been at the time when Mr. 
Wesley projected the Christian Library? 

We may form some notion of the labours of 
the itineraut preachers, from a letter written to 
Mr. Wesley by one of them, who travelled 
through various parts of Yorkshire, Lancashire, 
Derbyshire, and Cheshire. 



32$ GREAT LABOURS. 

'/ Many doors," says he, " are opened for 
preaching in these parts, but cannot be supplied 
for want of preachers. I think some one should 
be sent to assist 'me, otherwise we shall lose 
ground. My circuit is one hundred and fifty 
miles in two weeks ; during which time I preach 
publicly thirty-four times, besides meeting the 
societies, visiting the sick, and transacting the 
temporal business. I think the above is too 
much for me, considering my weak constitu- 
tion." 

Great as these exertions were, they bear a 
very small proportion to the labours of the two 
brothers. They preached as many times, fre- 
quently travelled near treble the number of 
miles in the same space of time, and had be- 
sides upon them the " care of all the 
churches." 

About this time, 1747, Mr. Wesley received 
a letter from one of the preachers who had been 
sent to Ireland. A society had been formed in 
Dublin, and Mr. Wesley determined to visit 
them immediately. Accordingly, August 4, he 
set out from Bristol, and passing through Wales, 
he arrived in Dublin on Sunday the 9th, about 
ten o'clock in the forenoon. At three, the 
same day, he wrote to the curate of St. Mary's, 
offering his assistance, which was thankfully 
received : " So/' says he, " I preached there 5 
another gentleman reading prayers, to as gay. 



LIBERALITY. 329 

and senseless a congregation as ever I saw." 
In the course of the day, he went to wait on the 
archbishop; but he was out of town. He saw 
him the next day, and had the honour of con- 
versing with him two or three hours; during 
which he answered abundance of objections. 

Both the Wesley s were very much abused by 
mobs during their labours m Ireland ; at the 
head of which were generally the Roman Ca- 
tholics. Their brethren, the Protestants, Were 
nevertheless, at times pretty active in persecut- 
ing the poor Methodists. Still they triumphed 
over every difficulty; still they exulted in the 
success of their labours. 

On the 17th of the same month in which Mr. 
John Wesley arrived in Ireland, he began to exa- 
mine the society, which contained about two 
hundred and eighty members. Notwithstand- 
ing the opposition he met with in that island, he 
remarks that the people in general are of a more 
tractable spirit than in most parts of England; 
but on that account, he acids, they must be 
watched over with the more care, being equally 
susceptible of good and ill impressions. 

The following letter, written in November, 
may shew us how careful Mr. Wesley was, at 
times, to guard the preachers against a party 
spirit in their public labours : " My dear bro- 
ther," says he, " in public preaching, speak not 
one word against opinions of any land, We 



530 ILLIBZRALITY. 

are not to fight against notions, but sins." Mr. 
John Wesley has compiled many books, he has 
preached many sermons, and said many good 
things in his time, but he never uttered a finer 
sentiment, nor one more agreeable to the mild 
spirit of Christianity, than the one I have just 
quoted. But do his disciples follow this advice 
at present? Did Dr. Coke follow this advice, 
when he said that the Lord Jesus Christ vomited 
forth Ariamsm, which ran like a stream into the 
gulphofhell? Or, did Mr. Samuel Bradburn, 
when he publicly asserted, at Bolton, not long 
ago, that a certain character was a devil in the 
shape of a man, like « spunge dipped in the de- 
vil- s lake, and squeezed in wrath over the guilty 
nations; and that Socinians are not only con- 
demned sinners, hut damned fools I and that they 
are as certain of being damned in hell, as if they 
'were already there ? 

What ought we to think of the piety of men 
who can thus transfer the language of the tap- 
room to the pulpit? Surely their zeal is com-> 
posed of the rankest bigotry; their sanctity is 
the most disgusting grimace, and their pretend- 
ed holiness is founded on the very worst species 
of hypocrisy. 



I am, &c\ 



331 



LETTER XXXI. 



Persecutions — Inconveniences of the first Poach- 
ers — Marriage of Mr. C. JVesley — A Parody 
* — Riots-^JnstabUity of some of the Preachers. 



X>EAR MADAM, 

On Sunday, the 23d August, 1747, Mr. Wesley 
took ship for England ; on the Wednesday fol- 
lowing, he landed at Holyhead, in Wales. On 
Saturday, 29th, he preached at Garth, in Breck- 
nockshire, where he met his brother Charles, on 
his way to Ireland. 

Mr. Charles arrived in Dublin on the 9th of 
5eptember following. 

" The first news we heard," says he, " was, 
that the little flock stands fast in the storm of 
persecution, which arose as soon as my brother 
left them. The popish mob broke open their 
room, and destroyed«all before them, Some of 



53f PERSECUTIONS. 

them are sent to Newgate, others hailed. What 
will he the event we know not, till we see whe- 
ther the grand jury will find the hill." 

The grand jury threw out the bill, and thus 
gave up the 'Methodists to the unrestrained 
fury of a popish mob. Still undaunted, Mr. 
C. Wesley proceeded to the Green adjoining 
the barracks, and crying out, " Come unto me 
all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I 
will give you rest," was presently surrounded 
by a large concourse of people, both Catholics 
and Presbyterians. 

To the Papists he quoted Thomas a Kempis 
and their own Liturgy ; so that none lifted up 
his voice or hand to oppose; but all listened 
with strange attention, and many were in tears. 
He advised them to go to their respective 
places of worship ; and thus, for that time, 
conciliated the favour of all. The Papists de- 
clared he was a good Catholic at heart. 

On a future visit to Ireland, when he was at 
Kinsale. it is remarked, that every denomina- 
tion of Christians claimed him as their own. 
4 <The Presbyterians say 1 am a Presbyterian; 
the people who go to church, say I am a mmkk 
ster of theirs ; and the Catholics are sure I am 
a good Catholic in my heart." 

As Mr. Wesley maintained many of the fun- 
damental doctrines of all these denominations, 
such as the trinity, atonement, original sin, 



INCONVENIENCES, &C. 333 

kc. it were very easy so to manage the phraseo- 
logy of his discourses as to be taken for a friend 
to any or all of them. 

At this early period of Methodism, the two 
brothers and the lay-preachers suffered great in- 
conveniences at the places where they lodged, 
even in large towns ; and we may suppose, says 
Dr. Whitehead, that both their accommodations 
and provisions were worse in country societies. 
The rooms also where they assembled, when 
they could not preach in the open air, began to 
be much too small for the number of people 
who attended. This being the present state of 
things in Dublin, Mr. Charles Wesley purchased 
a house near the place called Dolphinjs Barn. 
The whole ground-floor was forty- two feet in 
length, and twenty-four in breadth. This was 
to be turned into a preaching-house, and the 
preachers were to be accommodated with the 
rooms over it; but before he completed the 
purchase, he wrote to his brother for his opinion 
on the matter. His letter is dated October 9, in 
which he says, one advantage of the house was, 
that they could go to it immediately; and then 
adds, " I must go there, or to some other lodg- 
ings, or take my flight; for here 1 can stay no 
longer. A family of squalling children, a land- 
lady just ready to lie-in, a maid who has no time 
to do the least thing for us, are some of our con- 
veniences, Our two rooms for four people (six 



334? INCONVENIENCES, &C. 

when J. Healy and Haugliton come), allow na 
opportunity for retirement. Charles (he means 
Mr. Charles Perrenot) and I groan for elbow- 
room in our press-bed ; our diet answerable to 
our lodgings ; no one to mend our clothes and 
stockings; no money to buy more. I marvel 
that we have stood our ground so long in these 
lamentable circumstances. It is well I could 
not foresee, while on your side of the water." — 
October 17, he observes, " I passed the day at 
the house we have purchased, near Dolphin's 
Barn, in writing and meditation. I could al- 
most have set up my rest here ; but I must not 
look for rest on this side eternity." 

The Methodist preachers of the present day 
sometimes -speak of their hardships in the exer- 
cise of their ministerial duties. They, however, 
feed upon marrow and fat things, when com* 
pared with the manner in which their ances- 
tors fared. Surely the lines are fallen to them 
in pleasant places, and they have a goodly he- 
ritage. 

On the 9th February, 1748, Mr. C. Wesley 
left Dublin, and took an excursion into the 
country, where, particularly at Tyrrel's Pass, 
much good had been dene among the poor 
people by the instrumentality of the lay- 
preachers. At this place, which had long been 
a proverb of wickedness, one hundred persons 
were joined in society ; and a visible alteration 



MARRIAGE OF MR. C. WESLEY. S3S 

had taken place in their moral character. Not 
an oath was then heard, nor a drunkard seen, 
among them — apcrto rivitur horto* 

Mr. G. Wesley continued his labours in the 
country, through much opposition, but with 
wonderful success, till the 15th of February, and 
then returned to Dublin, where the society was 
also rapidly increasing*. On the 8th March, his 
brother John arrived from England, and gave 
him relief from his present situation. He left 
Dublin on the 20th, and on the day following 
reached Holyhead ; from thence, after great fa- 
tigue, he arrived at Garth, where he forgot his 
troubles in company with Miss Gwynne, for 
whom he had for some time entertained a very 
great regard ; and to whom he had in fact a 
kind of embryo intention of making proposals 
of marriage. 

During his present visit at Garth, this inten- 
tion ripened into a fixed resolution; and he 
thought it necessary to take the advice of his 
friends. 

For one that is in love, to ask advice concern- 
ing what steps he should take, is generally no- 
thing more than mere ceremony. When the 
obstacles to marriage are not absolutely insur- 
mountable, a union of the parties will always 
take place, whatever may have been the advice 
of real or pretended friends. Miss Gwynne was 
a young lady of good sense, piety, and agreeable 



S36 A PARODY," 

accomplishments. Mr. John Wesley did not 
oppose the match ; and if he had, Mr, Charles 
loved the lady, and was of a bold and independ- 
ent spirit : so that on the S>th of April, )7&9, he 
was married by his brother John, at Garth, who 
observes of the marriage-day, that " it was a 
solemn day, such as became the dignity of a 
Christian marriage." 

On the 15th of February, 1748, Mr. John 
Wesley left Bristol, and proceeded through 
Wales, on his way to Ireland. Being detained 
at Holyhead about twelve days, he says, " I ne- 
ver knew men make such poor excuses, as thesd 
captains did for not sailing. It put me in mind 
of the epigram— 

c There are, if rightly I may think, 
Five causes why a man may drink/ 

" Which, with a little alteration, wtfuld just suit 
them— 

* There are, unless my memory fail, 
Five causes why we should not sail — 
The fog is thick : the wind is high : 
It rains : or may do by and by : 
Or any other reason why." 

He arrived at Dublin on the evening of tli6 
8th of March. 



HYPERBOLE. 337 

On the 16th, he made inquiries into the state 
of the society. " Most pompous accounts," says 
he, " had been sent me from time to time, of 
the great numbers that were added to it ; so that 
I confidently expected to find therein six or se- 
ven hundred members. And how is the real 
fact ? I left three hundred and ninety-four mem- 
bers ; and I doubt if there are now three hun- 
dred and ninety-six ! 

" Let this be a warning to us all, how we give 
in to that hateful custom of painting things be- 
yond the life. Let us make a conscience of 
magnifying or exaggerating any thing. Let us 
rather speak under than above the truth. We, 
of all men, should be punctual in all we say, 
that none of our words may fall to the ground.' 5 
On this advice Dr. Whitehead makes the follow- 
ing very just and necessary observations: " It 
is to be greatly lamented, that some few of the 
preachers have not given more attention to this 
caution, and to some others Mr. Wesley has left 
on record, concerning evil-speaking, than they 
seem to have done. I cannot conceive how a 
man can keep a good conscience, who does not 
religiously observe them/' 

That some of the Methodist preachers do still 
deal pretty largely in amplification, when speak- 
ing concerning the success of their labours, it is 
very certain. I could produce some shameful 
instances of this species of pious fraud. Of evil- 

z 



338 SCANDAL. 

speaking, I believe it may fairly be said, that it 
is the great besetting sin of Methodism. Cer- 
tainly there are few professing Christians so 
much guilty of slander and back-biting as these 
people. They exercise this disagreeable propen- 
sity even against their own friends: what then 
have those to expect who they regard as their 
enemies ? 

Who steals my purse, steals trash — 'twas something — no- 
thing — 
'Twas mine — 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands : 
But he that filches from me my good name, 
Robs me of that which not enriches him, 
And makes me poor indeed ! 

During this visit to Ireland, Mr. Wesley seems 
to. have had little success ; for the people in the 
country places were very kind. A shower of 
stones which had been poured against his bro- 
ther by the papists, so far prejudiced the pro- 
testants in his favour, as to cause the people to 
weep when he left them ; yet none of them seems 
to have been set at liberty from the guilt and bur- 
then of their sins. i6 The waters," says he, 
" were too wide to be deep." In Dublin, the 
cause prospered rather better; for there " he 
had the satisfaction to find, that the work of 
God not only spread wider and wider, but was 
also much deepened in many souls." On Wed- 
nesday, the 18tb, he prepared to leave Ireland, 
and arrived at Holyhead the next day. 



IANCASTRIAN METHODISTS. 339 

June 24th, be opened the school at Kings- 
wood, for the reception of boarders, and preach- 
ed there on — " Train up a child in the way he 
should go, and when he is old he will not depart 
from it." 

During the summer of 1748., tbe Methodist 
doctrines and discipline made wonderful pro- 
gress in Northumberland, the county of Dur- 
ham, and in the savage parts of Lancashire, as 
Dr. Whitehead very politely denominates the 
county that gave birth to your humble ser- 
vant. In the village where I was born, being 
to the full, perhaps, as savage a part of Lanca- 
shire as any other district of that county, the 
Methodists were never able to get much foot- 
ing. I allude to Chowbent, a pretty large vil- 
lage, lying between Manchester and Wigan, 
where there are three places of public worship, 
viz. a large and very respectable Unitarian 
chapel, an Episcopal chapel of ease, and a chapel 
originally built by a Methodist, who afterwards 
became a Moravian, and opened his meeting- 
house to the Unit as Fratrum. Some few years 
ago I preached in this chapel to a very numer- 
ous audience, composed of Deists, Methodists, 
Moravians, Calvinists, Baptists, Arians, what 
are called Socinians, and Swedenborgians. This 
chapel was at that time in the possession of the 
friends of the illuminated Swedish Baron. There 

z 2 



340 RIOTS. 

were then very few Methodists in the place; indeed 
the preachers under the superintendence of Mr. 
John Wesley were never successful at Chowbent. 
I would, therefore, fain persuade myself, that the 
village of my nativity is not to be really included 
in " the samge parts of Lancashire." It was, 
however, savage enough, God knows ! when it 
drove one of the best men I ever knew, the Rev. 
Harry Toulmin, to seek shelter, from the fury of 
an enraged mob of pretended churchmen, in the 
woods of Kentucky, in North America. 

It is certain, however, that some of the Lan- 
castrians abused Mr. Wesley and his preachers 
in a most shameful manner ; and it was often 
with very great difficulty that he escaped with 
his life. 

Mr. Wesley seemed to delight in a storm : when 
the waters were troubled, many poor impotent 
sinners stepped into the pool of Methodism, and 
were healed of their diseases. It was in these 
troubled waters that our hero delighted to fish. 
Accordingly, in the beginning of September, 
1750, having been informed of the violence of 
the mobs at Cork, he determined to set out for 
the scene of riot. He arrived at Cork on the 
19th of May; and the next day proceeded to 
preach on Hammond's-marsh, then a large open 
space. The congregation was very large, and 
very attentive ; but the floods soon began to 
lift up their voice, and the most shocking out- 



INSTABILITY, &C. 341 

rages were permitted by the magistrates. Scenes 
of riot and persecution took place at Cork and 
the neighbourhood, which will be an eternal 
blot on the memory of the magistrates of those 
places. 

During these shameful proceedings, the cause 
of Methodism made rapid progress in various 
parts of Ireland. Many, both of the Roman 
Catholic and the Protestant faith, were brought 
over to the interest of the Wesleyans ; and many 
more of the Papists would have been converted, 
had not the Protestants, as well as their own 
priests, taken pains to hinder them. 

Violent as was the oppposition which Mr. 
Wesley met with from avowed enemies, he had 
to encounter evils of a more dangerous and 
alarming kind from some of his preachers and 
people. Many of the preachers had begun to 
wish to have the Methodists a body distinct 
from the church of England, from which Mr. 
Wesley had never avowed his dissent. The 
slightest hint of a rebellion of this nature gave 
him no small pain. He thus writes to a confi- 
dential friend, Mr. Edward Perronet — 

" I have abundance of complaints to make, 
as well as to hear. I have scarce any on whom 
I can depend, when I am an hundred miles off. 
Tis well I do not run away soon, and leave them 
to cut and shuffle for themselves. Here is a 



342 INSTABILITY OF SOME 

glorious people. But, O ! where are the shep- 
herds ? 

" The society at Cork have fairly sent me 
word, that they will take care of themselves, 
and erect themselves into a dissenting congre- 
gation. I am weary of these sons of Zeruiah : 
they are too hard for me. Dear Ted, stand fast, 
whether I stand or fall." 

He afterwards writes to the same person, say- 
ing, " Charles (Charles Perronet, the hrother of 
Edward) and you behave as I want you to do. 
But you cannot, or will not, preach where I de- 
sire. Others can and will preach where I de- 
sire ; but they do not behave as I want them to 
do." Again — " I think both Charles and you 
have a right sense of what it is to serve as sons 
in the gospel. And if all our helpers had had 
the same, the work of God would have pros- 
pered better, both in England and Ireland." — 
And again — " You put the thing right. I have 
not one preaqher with me, and not six in Eng- 
land, whose wills are broken enough to serve 
me as sons in the gospel/' 

These were alarming symptoms, Madam; and 
they seem to have shocked the ambition of Mr. 
John Wesley not a little. The fact is, the Me- 
thodists were already practical dissenters; and 
it was but honest in the society at Cork, and all 
the ingenuous preachers, to avow their dissent 



OF THE PREACHERS. 343 

at once. It was Mr. Wesley himself who was 
cutting and shuffling between the church of 
England and the Protestant dissenters, and not 
those societies which determined to act an ho- 
nest, open part, by leaving the church whose 
rubric tfiey had broken, and whose ritual they 
had in a great measure discarded. How the 
Methodists of the present day can persist in cal- 
ling themselves members of the church of Eng- 
land, I cannot tell. When will they lay aside 
their double-dealing ? 

Mr. Wesley left Ireland on the 22d of July, and 
proceeded to visit the societies through the West 
of England. 



I am, &c„ 



8A>4> 



LETTER XXXII. 



Mr. TVhite field — Hypocrisy of Unbel\exiers—. 
Dreadful Alarms — James Wheatley. 



Mr. Whitefield, having become a zealous 
Calvinist, had separated himself from the Wes- 
leyan connexion, and was proceeding with 
astonishing success in making proselytes to the 
cause of Predestinarianism. With respect to 
the notion of sensible and instantaneous con- 
version, and of almost all the other peculiarities 
of Methodism, the Whitefieldian and the 
Wesleyan Methodists still agreed pretty well. 

V/hitefield's manner in the pulpit was more 
engaging than that of either of the two Wes- 
leys : he had formerly been very much attached 
to theatrical entertainments, and after his con- 
version, when he had become a preacher, he 
carried along with him many of the graces of 



MR. WHITEF1ELD. 345 

oratory and the attractive gestures of the stage 
into the pulpit : his ministrations were conse- 
quently always very well attended. Sometimes, 
indeed, he was honoured with the attendance 
of some great personages, who, at that time, 
were making a figure in the literary and politi- 
cal world. Under the patronage of the cele- 
brated Countess of Huntingdon, he acquired 
considerable celebrity both as a Christian 
preacher and an orator. 

After his return from Georgia, in 1748, the 
Countess wrote to him, informing him that 
several of the nobility and gentry were desirous 
of hearing him preach. In a few days that 
complete man of the world, the Earl of Ches- 
terfield, and a large circle of his friends attend- 
ed at the preaching, and having heard him 
once, expressed a desire of hearing him again. 
ie I therefore preached again," says he, " the 
same evening, and went home, never more sur- 
prised at any incident in my life." This, Ma- 
dam, is perhaps the first and only instance in 
which a sermon has been known to be encored . 
Mr. Whiterield adds, " All behaved quite well, 
and were in some degree affected. The Earl 
of Chesterfield thanked me, and said, ' Sir, I 
will not tell you what I shall tell others, how 
I approve of you ;' or words to this purpose. 
At last Lord Bolingbroke came to hear, sat like 
an archbishop, and was pleased to say, '■ I had 



346 Mil. WH1TEFIELB. 

done great justice to the divine attributes in my 
discourse.' Soon afterwards her Ladyship re- 
moved to town, when I preached generally twice 
a- week to very brilliant auditories — Blessed be 
God, not without effectual success on some." — 
It has been said that the celebrated Scotch 
historian, Hume, was occasionally a hearer of 
Mr. Whitefield, and that he was much capti- 
vated with his eloquence. We must not, how- 
ever, look among the Chesterfields, the Boling- 
brokes, and the Humes for converts either to 
Arminian or Calvinian Methodism. Had the 
preaching of Whitefield been attended with any 
lasting effects on the mind of the Earl, he 
might perhaps have been spared some of those 
gloomy and heart-appaling reflections which 
made the close of his days bitter to him ; in- 
stead of looking upon his entrance upon ano- 
ther state of existence as " a leap in the dark," 
he might have left the world, which he had so 
long and so faithfully worshipped, with a hope 
blooming and full of immortality. He would have 
learned also in his lifetime to have guarded the 
morals of his son against the fascinating allure- 
ments of a gay and thoughtless age. Instead 
of endeavouring to initiate him into the mys- 
teries of fashion, and of teaching him to pre- 
varicate for good manners' sake, he would, 
probably, have learned himself in simplicity 
and godly sincerity to have had his conversa- 



HYPOCRISY OF UNBELIEVERS. 347 

tion among men. I greatly fear, when this 
votary of flattery told Mr. Whitefield he ap- 
proved of him, by which he meant to be un- 
derstood that he approved of his preaching, he 
was only paying the preacher a compliment ; 
which he might think it his duty to do from a 
regard to the demands of good breeding. 

Of the sincerity of Lord Bolingbroke's pro- 
fessions I would say less. He has been said to 
be a Deist ; but he certainly at one time thought 
highly of Christianity. (i No religion/' says 
he, " ever appeared in the world whose natural 
tendency was so much directed to promote the 
peace and happiness of mankind as Christian- 
ity." But indeed, Madam, there is no trusting 
to the professions of those who have thrown 
off all obligation to the restraints imposed upon 
them by the religion of Christ ; a religion which 
requireth truth in the inward parts. I know 
some unbelievers, and those too men of respect 
in the world, who have scrupled not, in writ- 
ing, to signify their belief of the Christian 
Doctrine ; but who, in conversation, are pro- 
fessed enemies to our common faith. That most 
fallacious and pernicious of all worldly maxims, 
to " think with the wise, and speak with the 
foolish," is near a-kin to this species of preva- 
rication, which, if it had been always acted 
upon, would have left the world in a fixed state 
of barbarism and misery, Voltaire received 



348 HYPOCRISY OF UNBELIEVERS. 

the Sacrament, at the very time he was engaged 
in a conspiracy with the king of Prussia and 
others to crush the wretch, meaning Christ. 
Rousseau declares that the evangelic history 
does not hear the mark of fiction. " On the 
contrary/' says he, " the history of Socrates, 
which nobody presumes to doubt, is not so well 
attested as that of Jesus Christ!" Thomas 
Paine, who tells us that the Bible teaches rapine, 
cruelty and murder, and that the New Testa- 
ment teaches us, that but I must not be 

allowed to repeat his very indecent blasphemy 
about the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit ; — 
that to love our enemies was only one out of 
many others of our Saviour's dogmas of false 
morality; I say, Madam, this man also con- 
fesses, that " Jesus Christ taught and lived the 
purest morality," that he was " a virtuous re- 
former;" and that his morality has not been 
exceeded by any. I forbear to quote from one 
or two authors of the present day, who have 
thus shamefully and basely prevaricated. I 
repeat it then, that no dependance can be placed 
on the professions of unbelievers. 

As to Hume, he might possibly admire the 
eloquence of Whitefield ; but surely he despised 
his Christian virtues: else he would have had 
more manly and exalted enjoyments on a bed 
of death, than a game at whist, or a joke 
about Lucian, Charon, and the River Styx. 



HYPOCRISY OF UNBELIEVERS. 349 

Had poor Emerson, the mathematician, lived 
the morality which Christ taught, instead of 
creeping on his hands and knees, covered with 
dirt, shame, and infamy, alternately praying 
and blaspheming, he might have been as happy 
as he was learned, and have closed his days, 
exclaiming, " Though I walk through the val- 
ley of the shadow of death, I will fear no 
evil ; for thou art with me ; thy rod and thy 
star? they comfort me." " O, death ! where 
is thy sting ? O, grave ! where is thy vic- 
tory ?" 

Excuse this digression, Madam. I now pro- 
ceed with the progress of our Wesleyan Chris- 
tians. 

While Whitefield, by his eloquence, was 
drawing some of the mighty and the noble to 
the Tabernacle, and while John Wesley was 
fighting with beasts in Ireland, Mr. Charles 
Wesley was making converts in England, and 
labouring to purge the Church of the Metho- 
dists from those members, preachers and others, 
who were a disgrace to the society. His mar- 
riage, which was rather an unusual one, had 
not lessened his zeal for Methodism, nor hin- 
dered his exertions to spread its name and in- 
fluence. He had, however, much to labour 
against, by the unsoundness of some ; the re- 
bellion of others ; and the enthusiasm of a third 
class. 



350 DREADFUL ALARMS. 

In the months of February and March, 1750, 
the city of London felt several shocks of an 
earthquake, which alarmed the inhabitants ex- 
ceedingly, particularly the Methodists, who 
flocked in shoals to the Foundery and the Ta- 
bernacle. 

Mr. Charles Wesley wrote to his brother 
John, on the 8th March, giving some account 
of this affair. "This iiaijpiingi'" says he, "a 
quarter after five, we had another shock of an 
earthquake, far more violent than that of Fe- 
bruary 8. I was just repeating my text, when 
it shook the Foundery so violently, that we all 
expected it to fall on our heads. A great cry 
followed from the women and children. I im- 
mediately cried out, Therefore we will not fear, 
though the earth be moved and the hills be car- 
ried into the midst of the sea : for the Lord of 
Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our 
refuge. 

" He filled my heart with faith, and my mouth 
with words, shaking their souls as well as their 
bodies. The earth moved westward, then east, 
then westward again, through all London and 
Westminster. It was a strong and jarring mo- 
tion, attended with a rumbling noise, like that 
of thunder. Many houses were much shaken, 
and some chimnies thrown down, but without 
any further hurt." 



DREADFUL ALARMS. 351 

Earthquakes not being very common in Eng- 
land, when they do happen, are always pro- 
ductive of great terror and alarm to the inha- 
bitants ; while every unusual phenomena in 
nature, is sure to find work for the dreamers of 
dreams ; every total eclipse of the sun, every 
appearance of a comet, every agitation of the 
earth, the combination of sulphureous and me- 
tallic particles, yea, every extraordinary storm 
of thunder and lightning, will rouse the pro- 
phets to action ; who will cause " confusion to 
be worse confounded" by their alarming prog- 
nostications. The convulsions of nature are 
always regarded by the Prophets of our day, as 
the sure harbinger of irs final dissolution. I 
have seen nearly all the inhabitants of a village 
running about the streets, in the most wild and 
frantic state of consternation, quite certain 
that the day of judgment was about to com- 
mence, because there had been a long and vio* 
lent tempest of hail, thunder, and lightning. 
This was the case on the 3d of August, 179$, at 
Tildsley-Banks, near Manchester; at which 
place there was such a storm of this kind as 
perhaps the inhabitants of our island never saw 
before. During the space of eighteen minutes, 
the heavens were in one continual roar. The 
lightnings blazed incessantly, and the hail 
descended in such large stones, and with so 
much velocity, as to break almost every pane 



352 DREADFUL ALARMS. 

of glass in the village that fronted southward. 
It might truly be said, that " fire mingled with 
hail ran along upon the ground." In a farm- 
house, where I was then sitting, I saw the glass 
and leads in the windows torn away as by an 
invisible hand. This being just after the sur- 
render of Valenciennes to the British troops, 
it had been proclaimed through the village, 
that a general illumination should take place in 
the evening— When, lo ! if the stars in 
their courses could once be said to fight against 
Sisera, it might then be concluded, that con- 
tending elements combined to check the un- 
hallowed triumphs of ambition and bloodshed. 
It appears, Madam, that the storm I have just 
been describing was not wholly confined to the 
village of Tildsley-Banks ; for the Prophet, 
Brothers, then in London, mentions it, in one 
of his pamphlets, as being one of the angels 
then engaged in pouring out his vial on the 
sun ! To return to the earthquake. On the 
4th of April, Mr. Wesley observes, (t Fear fill- 
ed our Chapel, occasioned by a prophecy of 
the return of the earthquake this night. I 
preached my written sermon on the subject^ 
with great effect, and gave out several suitable 
hymns. It was ?. glorious night for the disciples 
of Jesus. April 5, I rose at four o'clock, after 
a night of sound sleep, while my neighbours 
watched. I sent an account to M. G. as fol- 



DREADFUL ALARMS. 35S 

lows : — The late earthquake has found me work. 
Yesterday I saw the Westminster end of the 
town full of coaches, and crowds flying out of 
the reach of divine justice, with astonishing 
precipitation. Their panic was caused by a 
poor madman's prophecy. Last night they were 
all to be swallowed up. The vulgar were almost 
in as great consternation as their betters. Most 
of them watched all night ; multitudes in the 
fields and open places ; several in their coaches : 
many removed their goods. London looked 
like a sacked city. A lady just stepping into 
her coach to escape, dropped down dead. 
Many were all night knocking at the Foundery 
door, and begging admittance for God's sake 1" 
This account is confirmed by a letter from a 
W. Biggs to Mr. John Wesley, dated on the 
fifth of the same month, in which he says, 
""* This great city has been, for some days past, 
under terrible apprehensions of another earth- 
quake. Yesterday thousands fled out of town, 
it having been confidently asserted by a dra- 
goon, that he had a revelation, that great part 
of London, and Westminster, especially, would 
be destroyed by an earthquake the 4th instant, 
between twelve and one at night. The whole 
city was under direful apprehensions. Places 
of worship were crowded with frightened sin- 
ners, especially our two Chapels and the Taber- 
nacle, where Mr. Whitefield preached. Several 

A A 



354 



DREADFUL ALARMS. 



Classes came to their Leaders, and desired that 
they would spend the night with them in 
prayer: which was done, and God gave them 
a blessing. Indeed all around was awful ! " — 
" Though crowds left the town on Wednesday 
night, yet crowds were left behind ; multitudes 
of whom, for fear of being suddenly over- 
whelmed, left their houses, and repaired to the 
fields and open places in the city. Tower-Hill, 
Moorfields, but above all Hyde-Park, were 
rilled best part of the night, with men, women, 
and children, lamenting. Some, with stronger 
imaginations than others, mostly women, ran 
crying in the streets, an earthquake ! an earth- 
quake ! Such a distress, perhaps, is not re- 
corded to have happened before in this careless 
city. Mr. Wakefield preached at midnight in 
Hyde-Park. Hereby God will visit this city : 
it will be a time of mercy to some. O may I 
be found watching !" Does not this last re- 
mark amount to something like a belief in the 
dragoon's revelation ? 

These confusions, like all other public dis- 
turbances, turned to good account in the 
cause of Methodism. Many who had been 
driven to the preaching through dread of the 
earthquake, when the prophecy came not to 
pass and their fears were abated, still continued 
attached to the Wesleyans and the Whitefield- 
ians, and thereby augmented the numbers in 



JAMES WHEATLEY. 355 

society, and the hearers at the Foundery and 
Tabernacle. But these alarms also increased 
the number of enthusiasts and fanatics, which 
gave much pain to Mr. Charles Wesley. 

A worse calamity befel the Methodists soon 
after, through the lewdness of one of their 
preachers. His name was Wheatley, and was a 
kind of a quack in physic as well as in theology. 
This man made dreadful havoc among the 
sisterhood. Your modesty forbids that I 
should enter into farther detail of this wretch's 
dealings among the women. Wheatley con- 
tinued his licentious depredations until he was 
discarded by the two brothers on the 2,5th of 
June, 1751. Such was the notoriety of this 
man's lewdness, that it became necessary, for 
the credit of the cause, to publish the note of 
his expulsion, which was as follows : 

" Because you have wrought folly in Israel, 
grieved the holy spirit of God, betrayed your 
own soul into temptation and sin, and the souls 
of many others, whom you ought, even at the 
peril of your own life, to have guarded against 
all sin ; because you have given occasion to the 
enemies of God, whenever they shall know 
these things, to blaspheme the ways and truth 
of God. — We can in no wise receive you as a 
fellow-labourer, till we see clear proofs of your 
real and deep repentance. Of this you have 
given us no proof yet. You have not so much 
a a 2 



356 James wheatley. 

as named one single person, in all England of 
Ireland, with whom you have behaved ill, ex- 
cept those we knew before. 

" The least and lowest proof of such repent- 
ance which we can receive is this. That till 
our next Conference (which we hope will be in 
October) you abstain both from preaching and 
practising physic. If you do not, we are clear j 
we cannot answer for the consequence. 

" John Wesley, 

" Charles Wesley.'* 

This Wheatley was such a sad rake among 
the ladies, that even three years after his ex- 
pulsion, w r e find the Mayor of the city of 
Norwich employed a whole day in taking the 
affidavits of the women whom he had tried to 
corrupt. These accounts being printed and 
cried about the streets, occasioned great con- 
fusion. Fresh discoveries were daily made of 
his lewdness, "enough," it is said, " to make 
the ears of all who hear it tingle." I will have 
mercy on your ears, Madam, and drop the sub- 
ject, observing, that this Methodistical Adonis 
published a book, which I have read, entitled 
*< Advice to Married Persons !" 

I am, &c. 



S5t 



LETTER XXX1IL 



Prejudices against Mr. Charles Wesley — Desists 
from Travelling — His Sickness and Death — His 
Character — Specimens of his Poetry. 



DEAR MADAM, 

The conduct of James Wheatley put the bro- 
thers upon a strict inquiry into the character 
and abilities of the rest of the lay-preachers. 
This unpleasant office fell, with very great pro- 
priety, on Mr. Charles Wesley. He accordingly 
commenced a kind of inspecting tour through 
all the circuits. This service, as Ave may well 
suppose, was attended with no very pleasing 
effects. Many were found deficient in abilities; 
many were discovered to be disobedient and 
ungovernable, especially in what regarded the 
union of the Methodists with the church of 
England; many were found careless and hike- 
4 



35S PREJUDICES AGAINST 

warm in their duties ; and some were discovered 
to have been immoral in their conduct. It 
was neither safe nor possible to silence all these 
offending preachers. Charles Wesley, being of 
a more resolute and discerning mind than his 
brother John, acted under these circumstances 
with as much prudence and courage as he 
possibly coukL But his high-church principles, 
nearly amounting to bigotry, induced him, at 
times, to number among the sins of the preach- 
ers, their non-attendance on the service and 
ordinances of the church of England. He con- 
sequently created himself many enemies ; some 
from motives of moral principle, and others from 
those of revenge. The lukewarm and the im- 
moral hated him as an enemy that had found 
them out; the dissenting brethren, sometimes 
looked upon him as one seeking to lord it over 
God's heritage; those who were deficient in 
abilities to preach, despised him, as one wish- 
ing to oppose human learning and head-know- 
ledge to the inspiration and operations of the 
Spirit. 

Concerning a preacher of this last class, he 
writes as follows — 

u August 5, I went to the room, that I might 
hear with my own ears, one of whom many 
strange things had been told me. But such a 
preacher never have I heard before, and hope I 



MR. C. WESLEY. 359 

never shall again. It was beyond description. 
I cannot say he preached false doctrine, or true, 
or any doctrine at all ; but pure unmixed non- 
sense.- Not one sentence did he utter that 
could do the least good. Now and then a text 
of scripture was dragged in by head and shoul- 
ders. I could scarcely refrain from stopping 
him. He set my blood a galloping, and threw 
me into such a sweat, that I expected the fever 
to follow. (He was then just recovering from a 
severe indisposition). Some begged me to step 
into the desk, and speak a few words to the dis- 
satisfied hearers. I did so, taking no notice of 
M. F k (meaning, I suppose, Mich, Fen- 
wick, who died in the connexion, in 1797), late 
superintendent of all Ireland ! I talked closely 
with him, utterly averse to working, and told 
him plainly he should either work with his 
hands, or preach no more. He complained of 
my brother. I answered, I would repair the 
supposed injury, by setting him up again. At 
last he yielded to work." The same day he 
silenced another preacher; for what offence it 
does not appear.. 

It is very commonly thought among the Me- 
thodists, that Mr. Charles Wesley used, at times, 
to backslide from his religious course ; and that 
on one of these occasions he wrote the follow- 
ing stanza — 



360 DESISTS FROM TRAVELLING. 

" Ah ! where am I now ? 
When was it, or how, 

That I fell from my heaven of grace J 
I am brought into thrall, 
I am stript of my all ; 

I am banish'd from Jesus'-s face !" 

The rumour of Charles Wesley falling from, 
grace, and of his being deficient in zeal, was, J 
believe, unfounded. Be this, however, as it may, 
he did certainly desist from travelling in conjunc- 
tion with his brother John, some time before 
his death. The cause of this circumstance is 
perhaps to be sought for in the spirit of dissent 
from the church, which began to prevail among 
the brethren, and which John had not sufficient 
courage to oppose, as Charles thought he ought 
to have done. The foolish awd ridiculous prac- 
tice, which his brother had begun, of ordaining 
some of the lay-preachers, who vainly thought 
that such an honour would give them greater in- 
fluence with the people, considerably strengthen- 
ed him in his separation. Charles was very desir- 
ous of abiding by his ordination- oaths ; and 
when John began to make such very glaring in- 
novations, as to take upon himself the power and 
office of ordination, It grieved him exceedingly. 
Not that he formally withdrew himself from the 
connexion : for although he laid aside, in a great 
measure, his itinerant plan, he still preached^ 



HIS DEATH. 36 J 

at the chapel in London, and sometimes visited 
|;hat at Bristol. 

Mr, Charles Wesley having now in a great 
measure resigned the very active part which he 
took in the societies, we must proceed to take 
pur final leave of him. 

Of the last hours of this champion of Method- 
ism, we are not furnished with any thing very 
important. " He possessed," says Dr. White- 
head, " that state of mind which he had been, 
always pleased to see in others — unaffected hu- 
mility, and holy resignation to the will of God. 
He had no transports of joy, but solid hope and 
unshaken confidence in Christ, which kept his 
mind in perfect peace. A few days before his 
death, he composed the following lines — 



" In age and feebleness extreme, 
Who shall a sinful worm redeem ? 
Jesus, my only hope thou art, 
Strength of my failing flesh and heart 
O ! could I catch a smile from thee, 
And drop into eternity \" 



He died, March 29, 1788, aged seventy-nine 
years and three months; and was buried, April 
5, in Marybone church-yard, at his own de- 
sire. The pall was supported by eight clergy- 
men of the church of England. On his tomb- 



362 



HIS CHARACTER. 



stone are the following lines, written by him- 
self on the death of one of his friends— 

" With poverty of spirit blest, 
Rest, happy saint, in Jesus rest : 
A sinner sav'd, through grace forgiv'n, 
Redeem'd from earth, to reign in heaven ! 
Thy labours of unwearied love, 
By thee forgot, are crown'd above ; 
Crown'd, through the mercy of thy Lord, 
With a free, full, immense reward !" 

Mr. Charles Wesley is described as a man of a 
warm and lively disposition, of great frankness 
and integrity, and generous and steady in his 
friendships. In conversation he is said to have 
been pleasing, instructive, and cheerful ; and 
that his observations were often seasoned with 
wit and humour. As a husband, a father, and a 
friend, his character was amiable; and that, as 
a minister, he delivered from the pulpit what 
flowed from the present views and feelings of his 
own mind. 

No one will be disposed to call in question the 
faithfulness of this account. But was he not at 
times severe, haughty, over- bearing, and dog- 
matical in his manner? Too tenacious of his 
own opinion ? Was he not tinctured with bi- 
gotry, when he declared that the scripture came 
with a peculiar sweetness to him when read in 
a church f Though he often opposed the spirit 



HIS CHARACTER. 36.3 

of enthusiasm among his brethren, was he not 
sometimes enthusiastical himself? He became 
almost as firm a believer in sudden conversions, 
in extraordinary illuminations, as his brother 
John. He did not always check the ecstacies, 
and wild raptures, into which his commanding 
eloquence and terrible descriptions often threw 
his hearers. 

Charles Wesley was the great poet of Method- 
ism — the bard of the saints. Of the Collection 
of Hymns made, and I believe chiefly composed, 
by the two brothers, Mr. John says, that they 
will not soon be worn thread-bare; that the 
book " is large enough to contain all the import- 
ant truths of our most holy religion, whether spe- 
culative or practical ; yea, to illustrate them all, 
and to prove them both by scripture and reason P 

" May I be permitted, ?1 he continues, " to add 
a few words with regard to the poetry ? Then I 
will speak to those who are judges thereof, with 
all freedom and unreserve. To these I may say, 
without offence, 1. In these hymns there is no 
doggerel; no botches j nothing put in to patch 
up the rhyme; no feeble expletives. 2. Here 
is nothing turgid or bombast on the one hand, 
or low and creeping on the other. 3. Here are 
no cant expressions ; no words without mean- 
ing. — 4. Here are both the purity, the strength, 
and the elegance of the English language ; and 
at the same time the utmost simplicity and 
5 



S64 SPECIMENS 

plainness, suited to every capacity. Lastly, I 
desire men of taste to judge ( these are the only 
competent judges ), whether there is not in some 
of the verses the true spirit of poetry; such as 
cannot he acquired by art and labour, but must 
be the gift of nature. By labour a man may be- 
come a tolerable imitator of Spenser, Shakespeare, 
or Milton, and may heap together pretty com- 
pound epithets, as pale-eyed, meek-eyed, and the 
like. But unless he is born a poet, he will never 
attain the genuine spirit of poetry.'* 

I have already laid before you several speci- 
mens of these hymns, mostly by Charles Wes- 
ley ; I cannot, however, resist the pleasure of 
transcribing the following 



FUNERAL HYMN. 



AH ! lovely appearance of death ! 

What sight upon earth is so fair ? 
Not all the gay pageants that breathe 

Can with a dead body compare. 
With solemn delight 1 survey 

The corpse when the spirit is fled, 
In love with the beautiful clay, 

And longing to lie in its stead \ 

How blest is our brother bereft 
Of all that could burden his mind I 

How easy the soul that has left 
Tkis wearisome body behind ! 



0¥ HIS POEXRY. 365 

Of evil incapable thou, 

Whose relics with envy I see ? 
No. longer in misery now, 

No longer a sinner like rae; 

This earth is affected no more 

With sickness, or shaken with pain : 
The war in the members is o'er, 

And never shall vex him again: 
No anger henceforward or shame 

Shall redden this innocent clay ; 
Extinct is the animal flame, 

And passion is vanish' d away. 

This languishing head is at rest, 

Its thinking and aching are o'er; 
Xhis quiet immoveable breast 

Is heav'd by affliction no more. 
This heart is no longer the seat 

Of trouble and torturing pain ; 
It ceases to flutter and beat — 

It never shall flutter again. 

The lids he so seldom could close, 

By sorrow forbidden to sleep, 
Seal'd up in eternal repose, 

Have strangely forgotten to weep : 
The fountains can yield no supplies ; 

These hollows from water are free ; 
The tears are all wip'd from these eyes, 

And evil they never shall see. 

To mourn and to suffer is mine, 

While bound in a prison I breathe, 
And still for deliverance pine, 

And press to the issues of death : 



366 SPECIMENS 

What now with my tears I bedew, 

O might I this moment become! 
My spirit created anew, 

My flesh be consign'd to the tomb ! 

These verses do not, I conceive, disgrace the 
muse of Mr. Charles Wesley, whose production 
I believe they are. But you will perceive, Ma- 
dam, that very great poetic licence has been 
taken with some of the doctrines of Christianity^ 
as well as with the common experience of men 
concerning a state of death. 

Mr. John Wesley, in his preface to these 
hymns, asserts, that "no word is there used but 
in a fixed and determinate sense." In what 
sense, then, are we to understand the third line 
of the fifth stanza? — 

SealVi up in eternal repose — — 

And how are; we to reconcile that petition in the 
Litany, agairast sudden death, with many of the 
expressions, and the general sentiment of the 
above stanzais? particularly with part of the 
last? — 

And still for deliverance pine, 
And piress to the issues of death : 

What now with my tears I bedew, 
O migh,t I this moment become! 



OF HIS POETRY. 36*7 

But they who feel not the beauty and the 
poetic fire of the verses altogether, have never 
paid their court to the muses. 

I may be allowed to give you one or two spe- 
cimens of Charles Wesley's lighter and more 
lively poetry. 



THE MAN OF FASHION. 

WRITTEN IN 1784. 

WHAT is a modern Man of Fashion ? 
A man of taste and dissipation : 
A busy man, without employment; 
A happy man, without enjoyment. 
Who squanders all his time and treasures, 
On empty joys and tasteless pleasures; 
Visits, attendance, and attention, 
And courtly arts too low to mention. 
In sleep, and dress, and sport, and play, 
He throws his worthless life away ; 
Has no opinion of his own, 
But takes from leading beaux the ton. 
With a disdainful smile or frown, 
He on the rif-raf croud looks down : 
The world polite, his friends and he, 
And all the rest are — Nobody ! 

Taught by the great his smiles to sell, 
And how to write, and how to spell ; 
The great his oracles he makes, 
Copies their vices and mistakes ; 
Custom pursues, his only rule, 
And lives an ap«, and dies a fool ! 



368 SPECIMENS. 

From a perusal of the following lines, one 
would almost be led to conclude, that Mr* 
Charles Wesley was a dissenter : 

u Inventions added in a fatal hour 9 

Human appendages of pomp and power ; 

Whatever shines in outward grandeur great, 1 

I give it up — a creature of the State ! 

Wide from the church a's hell from heaven is wide 3 

The blaze of riches, and the glare of pride, 

The vain desire of being entitl'd Lord, 

The worldly kingdom, and the princely sword. 

But should the bold usurping spirit dare 

Still higher ciimb, and sit in Moses' chair, 

Power o'er my faith and conscience to maintain, 

Shall I submit, and suffer it to reign ? 

Call it The Church, and darkness put for light, 

Falsehood with truth confound, and wrong with right f 

No ! I dispute the evil's haughty claim, 

The Spirit of the World be still its name ; 

Whatever calPd by men, 'tis purely evil, 

'Tis Babel, Antichrist, and Pope, and Devil 1" 



I am, &g. 



369 



LETTER XXXIV. 



Marriage of Mr. Wesley — Success of Methodism 
in Scotland — Causes of its Failure there — Testi- 
mony in favour of the established Clergy of these 



Kingdoms. 



DEAR MADAM, 



In the year 1750, Mr. John Wesley began to en- 
tertain thoughts of marriage ; but his brother 
Charles, for reasons which do not now appear, 
set his face against that measure. Mr. Wesley 
was not, however, to be diverted from the pur- 
pose he had once seriously embraced. He had 
long been accustomed to follow the dictates of 
his own will in things less important than that 
of carnal love. It could not then be expected 
from him that he should suffer a determination 
of such consequence to his happiness to be frus- 
trated by any of the ordinary occurrences of 
life. Accordingly, in the year 175 1 3 he gave 

B B 



370 MARRIAGE OF 

his hand to Mrs. Vizelle, a widow lady of inde- 
pendent fortune. This was a most unhappy 
match indeed. He loved his wife, but he loved 
to travel and preach much more. Indeed he 
made it a kind of marriage-article during his 
courtship, that he should not preach one sermon 
or travel one mile less on that account. " If I 
thought I should," said he, " my dear, as well 
as I love you, I would never see your face more." 
It seems Mrs. Wesley soon broke this engage- 
ment, and at last took her leave of him, signify- 
ing her resolution that she would never more re- 
turn. On this event Mr. Wesley coolly ob- 
serves, " Non earn reliqui, non dimissi ; non re- 
vocabo. " 

She died in the year 1781, at Camberwell, near 
London. The stone, which is placed at the 
head of her grave, sets forth, " That she was a 
woman of exemplary piety, a tender parent, and 
a sincere friend." 

Her fortune, which had been secured to her 
prior to her marriage with Mr. Wesley, she left 
to her son by her former husband. To Mr. Wes- 
ley she bequeathed a ring ! 

Mr. Wesley found it less difficult to govern a 
society, consisting of some thousands of mem- 
bers, than he did to bring his wife into clue sub- 
jection. He was determined in all his under- 
takings with others to be complete lord and 
master himself. Of the importance of his own 



MR. WESLEY. 371 

character, contrasted with that of his wife's, he 
had very high notions. In one of his letters he 
thus asks her: " Of what importance is your 
character to mankind ? If you was buried just 
now; or if you had never lived, what loss would 
it be to the cause of God ?" 

According to the accounts which his bio- 
graphers have given us of this unfortunate match, 
it appears, that Mrs. Wesley used her husband 
in a most unjustifiable manner : robbing him — 
suspecting him of a criminal intercourse with 
other women — aspersing his moral character, &c. 
Yet he writes to her, saying, " I love you still, 
and am as clear from all other women as the day 
I was born. -At length know me, and know 
yourself. Your enemy I cannot be; but let me 
be your friend : asperse me no more ; provoke 
me no more. Do not any longer contend for 
mastery, for power, money or praise. Be con- 
tent to be a private insignificant person, known 
and loved by God and me. Attempt no more to 
abridge me of my liberty, which I claim by the 
laws of God and man. Leave me to be governed 
by God and my own conscience. Then shall I 
govern you with gentle sway, and shew that 
I do indeed love you as Christ loved the 
church/' 

Though I am disposed to believe Mrs. Wesley 
was very censurable ; yet, if I have not mis- 
taken the general temper of you ladies, Madam, 

b b 2 



372 SUCCESS OF METHODISM 

there are some very obnoxious words and phrases 
in the letter from which I have made this short 
extract. The question respecting Mrs. Wesley's 
importance in society — " know yourself "" — " do 
not contend for mastery, for power, or praise" 
— a " private insignificant person"— 4 ' I will go- 
vern you with gentle sway/' &c. are such phrases 
which few wives will patiently submit to from 
their husbands* 

Mr. Wesley paid his first visit to Scotland in 
this year (1751). The labours of the Methodists 
have, however, never been crowned with extra- 
ordinary success in that country; and Mr. 
Myles seems to intimate that their reason for 
still preaching in Scotland is, that Methodism 
there may act by way of check upon the spread 
of Arianism and Socinianism. The manner in 
which the Methodists proceed against these he- 
resies, as they suppose them to be, is not by the 
common mode, such as force of argumentation, 
or strength of reasoning; but simply by rank- 
ing Arians and Socinians with Atheists and De- 
ists. It is an easy matter to knock down a man 
of straw. But I will he bold to assert, that not 
one out of a hundred of the members have read 
a single line on the subject, and that not one out 
of fifty, even of the preachers, ever gave it half 
an hour's impartial consideration in their whole 
lives. Satisfied with the verbal representations 
of Dr. Coke and a few others, and thereby relying 



IN SCOTLAND. 373 

on the accounts of professed enemies, they take 
it for granted that Arianism and Socinianism are 
synonymous with Deism and Atheism ; though 
I much question whether many of the good bre- 
thren know what is meant by those two last 
terms. They very justly think it unfair in 
others to condemn them and their doctrines 
without first having given them an impartial 
hearing; but do they always attend to this 
themselves? The Unitarians have, however, 
nothing to fear from the attacks of the Me- 
thodists, who are every way incompetent to 
the question. The Methodists have other work 
to do than the conversion of Unitarians; work 
in which they are more likely to succeed. — 
That is not their calling; neither is a spirit of 
accurate investigation, or of unrestrained in- 
quiry their forie. Let them be content to ci- 
vilize the mob, and they will continue to do 
good. If they attempt more than this, they 
labour in vain. They ought not to meddle in 
matters they do not understand. Highly as I 
think of the editor of the Bibliographical Dic- 
tionary, I am well persuaded that were all the 
preachers like to that gentleman, Methodism 
would shortly be no more. It is said, Madam, 
that Mr. Wesley declared, he never could re- 
tain a bookseller in his society for any length 
of time ; and Charles Wesley says he never knew 
a genius that did any good. 



374 FAILURE OF METHODISM 

I would not be understood to pass these cen- 
sures indiscriminately. I have the pleasure of 
knowing and corresponding with some whose 
minds are as liberal as their hearts are good, and 
their views methodistical. To one of them, a 
'much esteemed friend, whose virtues reflect an 
honour on his connexions, 1 applied for some of 
the Methodists' publications, to assist me in this 
work; and he answered me- — " Though I am a 
member of the Methodist society, I have not one 
of their books in my library, excepting an odd 
volume of the Magazine, and Wesley's tract on 
Electricity." To proceed : 

What with Unitarianism on the right hand^ 
and Calvinism on the left, the Wesleyan Chris- 
tians have not succeeded so well in North Bri- 
tain as in other parts of the world. Besides, the 
stale of morals among the North Britons leave 
very little for Methodism to work upon ; whose 
business it is, not so much to change the opi- 
nions, as to reform the manners, of the people. 
It were much to be wished, that other denomi- 
nations would be more ambitious to emulate the 
Methodists in this particular. But every one in 
its own order :— How many of the members of 
other communities can now look through Me- 
thodism, to the rock from whence they were 
hewn, and to the hole of the pit from whence 
they were dug ! 



Itf SCOTLAND. 375 

The Methodists have never been persecuted 
111 Scotland ; that is another reason why they 
have succeeded so ill in that country. We have 
already observed, that the Wesleyans fish the 
best in troubled waters. The Calvinists have 
no power, and if they had, I believe they would 
not now use it; and the Unitarians have no in- 
clination to persecute others ; therefore has Me- 
thodism in Scotland been left to make its way 
by its own inherent excellence: the conse- 
quence has hitherto been, that they have done 
ittle good there. The Methodists, however, 
have not been wholly unsuccessful in that part 
of the Lord's vineyard ; and they do not de- 
spair of yet doing more to bring the people to 
embrace their opinions and practices. 

" Scotland,' 1 they say, " it is certain, like Ge- 
neva, has, since the Reformation, ran from 
high Calvinism, to almost as high Arianism or 
Socinianism : the exceptions, especially in the ci- 
ties, are but few. And who can stem the torrent? 5 ' 
Not, I am persuaded, the Methodist preachers. 
If Arians and Socinians are to be subdued, it 
must be by reason and argument, not by abuse 
and declamation ; and these latter are the only 
weapons the Wesleyans have in their power to 
use against them. They, however, wield them 
with all their might; while the objects of thtir 
implacable hatred seem to smile at the feebleness 



37$ TESTIMONY IN FAVOUR OF 

of their attempts ; and to flourish with the in* 
crease of learning and sound morality in the 
kingdom. 

About this time arose various disputes in the 
societies, concerning their union with the church 
of England. The dissenters, who had heen 
converted to Methodism, retained their former 
non-conforming prejudices : many who had 
before been used to consider themselves church- 
people, became dissenters; and, lastly., the in- 
temperate conduct of some of the preachers, in 
pointing out what they conceived to be the 
crimes of the clergy, are said to be the leading 
causes of those disputes which ever after gave 
Mr. Wesley great uneasiness, and which have 
increased so much since his death. 

It is necessary to make one or two remarks 
on the last of the above mentioned causes of 
disturbance; viz. the intemperate conduct of 
some of the preachers, in pointing out the er- 
rors of the clergy. We may ask, Madam, Who 
made these Methodists judges in Israel? Who 
gave them authority to abuse, in public and 
private, the character of a body of men whose 
learning, piety, and morality, are in a great de- 
gree the honour of our island ?- Although myself 
a dissenter, I am constrained to acknowledge, 
that the great bulk of our national learning is to 
be found among the clergy of the establish- 



THE ESTABLISHED CLERGY. 377 

ment. In the practice of morality in general, 
what body- of men in the world exceeds that of 
the regular clergy of these kingdoms? I am 
persuaded, not any. Pray who are the great 
promoters of those public charities, those learn- 
ed and beneficent institutions which are at once 
the glory, the happiness, the bulwarks, of our 
country ? Not the Methodists ; but the 
bishops and clergy of the established church. 
Were they to withdraw their patronage and 
support from every charitable institution in the 
kingdom, the widow's heart that now sings for 
joy would droop within her; the poor, now 
raised by their munificence and public spirit, 
would fall to rise no more. Let us only look 
at the lists of names which are printed with the 
periodical reports of almost every literary and 
charitable institution in these kingdoms, and 
we shall find tins feeble testimony to the worth 
of our national clergy confirmed in the amplest 
manner. Considered as a body, they are, 
doubtless, the ornaments of the religion they 
teach, and of the country that supports them. 
And shall a few mistaken Methodist preachers 
take upon them, without censure, to vilify these 
men as "dumb dogs;"' as unenlightened, 
worldly, unregenerate, unconverted sinners, 
without hope and without God in the world ? 
Is it to be tolerated, that because the regular 
clergy are disposed to act soberly in their pub- 



378 TESTIMONY IN FAVOUR OF 

lie ministrations, and to read their discourses, 
instead of pouring out upon the people a heap 
of crude, undigested, extemporaneous matter, 
that, therefore, they shall be considered as blind 
leaders of the blind ? 

It is in vain for the Methodists to pretend to 
be of a spirit different to the one I have been 
here alluding to, concerning their respect for 
the clergy. Every Methodist in the kingdom 
knows,, if he would confess it, that those 
clergymen who do not preach extempore, are 
looked upon as unevangelical, unconverted 
men. Nothing is a surer test of a clergyman's 
being an unenliglitened man, than his using notes 
in the pulpit. The exceptions to this illiberal 
notion are very few indeed. Else, whence is it 
that those clergymen who preach extempore are 
alone called gospel, evangelical, and enlightened 
ministers ? Many aged and truly respectable 
ministers of the established church may now 
say: " Those who are younger than I, have 
me in derision, whose fathers I would have- 
scorned to have set with the dogs of my 
flock 1" 

I am aware, Madam, that the praise I have- 
here bestowed on the ministers of our church,, 
must be given with some painful exceptions; 
that pluralists, and non-residents, do still dis- 
grace the establishment ; and that some of the 
clergy are immoral men, regardless of the flock ? 



THE ESTABLISHED CLERGY. 379 

while they secure the fleece; but I repeat it 
with pleasure, the bulk of the clergy is com- 
posed of men of profound learning', sincere piety, 
and extensive liberality. I should be sorry to 
see these men removed from their livings, to 
make room for their calumniators. I should be 
sorry to see our ecclesiastical establishment re- 
duced to that state of barbarity from which it 
has long been emerging. It has been said, that 
we have an Arminian clergy and a Calvinistic 
liturgy. Admit this : but we had better have 
only one evil than two ; and if we let them alone, 
the time will come, I make no doubt, when the 
evil will be purged away by the growing influ- 
ence of the good. 

At any rate, such serio-comic-episcopo-dis- 
senting clergymen as the author of The Sale of 
Curates, are not the men to reform the church ; 
but rather to augment the number of her ble- 
mishes, and to re-barbarize her ministers and 
supporters. Under their hands she will be 

" Worse for mending — wash'd to fouler stains." 

You will excuse, Madam, this apparent di- 
gression from the subject in hand; and believe 
me to be, 

Yours, &c. 



580 



LETTER XXXV. 



Mr. Fletcher— Anecdote — A Revival — Perfection 
— Mr. Max field— George Bell — Prophesijing— 
Pandora's Box, 



DEAR MADAM, 

The disputes, which I mentioned in my last, 
greatly agitated the Methodist connexion, and 
produced many partial divisions and separations 
from the societies, in different parts of the 
kingdom ; yet upon the whole the work went 
on well ; that is, the members in the societies 
continued to increase. 

In the year 1 757, Mr. Wesley first received 
assistance in his ministerial labours from John 
William de la Flechere, a Swiss gentleman, 
who had just taken Priest's orders in this 
country. 



MR. FLETCHER. 38i 

Mr. Wesley notices this circumstance in the 
following manner: — " March 13, 1757, finding 
myself weak at Snowfields, I prayed that God, 
if he saw good, would send me help at the 
chapel. He did so. As soon as I had clone 
preaching, Mr. Fletcher came, who had just 
then been ordained Priest, and hastened to the 
chapel,, on purpose to assist me, as he supposed 
me to be alone. How wonderful are the ways 
of God ! When my bodily strength failed, 
and no clergyman in England was able and 
willing to assist me, he sent me help from the 
mountains of Switzerland ! And a help meet 
for me in every respect ! Where could I have 
found such another !" 

Mr. Fletcher is said to have been one of the 
holiest men of the age ; and I am not disposed 
to call the truth of this assertion into question : 
There have been many holy men this age : Mr. 
Fletcher was eminently of the number. He 
certainly professed to have attained a state of 
perfection! and he wrote much in defence of 
that notion. Whatever were his spiritual at- 
tainments, his abilities as an able and powerful 
reasoner must remain undoubted while The 
Checks to Antinomianism are extant. These books 
never were, they never can be, answered. The 
late venerable Member of Parliament for Shrews- 
bury, and his witty brother, the author of The 
Sale of Curates, to whom I alluded in a former 



3S2 ANECDOTE. 

letter, did all they could to overturn Fletcher's 
arguments ; but in vain — Never were the ad- 
mirers of that man who gave Servetus such a 
warm reception, more completely foiled, than 
when they fell into the hands of the Rev. John 
Fletcher. This gentleman's polemic writings 
made the Countess of Huntingdon tremble. — - 
To ease her mind, her minions railed against the 
Wesleyans, and gnashed their teeth at John 
Fletcher. But John kept his temper and his 
ground, until the disciples of Calvin retired 
from the field in disgrace. The pious 
Countess, however, was pretty well contented 
that Fletcher had been answered. The pious 
Countess was more easily satisfied than was 
James I. when under somewhat similar circum- 
stances. When, this monarch had read Calder- 
wood's book, entitled, " Alter Damascenum," he 
manifested great uneasiness: "Letnotthisdisturb 
your Majesty," cried one of the Bishops, "we 
will answer the book."— iC Tush, mon," replied 
the King, " what wid ye aunser ! 'tis nothing 
■but scrap tur and razon !" 

Nothing remarkable seems to have taken 
place in the Methodist society from the time 
of Mr. Fletcher's debut, till the year 1/60, in 
which year a mighty revival commenced, which 
lasted some years. This was ei that glorious 
work of Sanctincation, which, " Mr. Wesley 



A REVIVAL. 3S3 

says, ' ' had been nearly at a stand for twenty 
years." But which "from time to time spread, 
first through various parts of Yorkshire, after- 
wards in London, then through most parts of 
England, next to Dublin, Limerick, and 
through all the south and \yest of Ireland/' 
One would almost suppose that Mr. Wesley is 
here describing the course of a real meteor, 
such as that which made its appearance in the 
year 1783, and was seen by so many thousands 
of his Majesty's subjects, in most parts of his 
dominions ! No, Madam, it is a meteor of the 
mind which our hero is here speaking of He 
calls it !3 day of Penticost — the perfecting of 
the saints. Dr. Whitehead speaks of it as fol- 
lows : — " From the present year (1756) I find 
little more than a recurrence of circumstances 
similar to those already related, till we come to 
the year 1760; when religious experience, or 
at least the profession of it, began to assume an 
appearance among the Methodists, in some re- 
spects quite new." The thing is this : Mr. Wes- 
ley had long entertained an opinion similar to 
that held by the Papists and the Quakers, ( viz. ) 
that it is possible for a person to attain to a 
state of perfection even in this life. Barclay, the 
Apologist of the Quakers, thus describes this 
doctrine. " In whom this pure and holy birth 
is fully brought forth, the body of death and 
sin comes to be crucified, and removed, and 



384 PERFECTION. 



their hearts united and subjected to the truth | 
so as not to obey any suggestions or tempta- 
tions of the evil one, to be free from actual 
sinning and transgressing of the law of God, 
and in that respect perfect : Yet doth this per- 
fection still admit of a growth ; and there re- 
maineth always in some part a possibility of 
sinning, when the mind doth not most dili- 
gently and watchfully attend unto the Lord." 

How-Mr* Wesley held this notion, I will explain 
to you, when I come to treat of his doctrines : 
suffice it at present to observe, that he improv- 
ed upon Barclay's opinion. One of his improve* 
ments was, that this state of perfection might be 
attained in a moment \ during preaching, prayer, 
reading, conversation, or any other spiritual 
exercise ; nay, I have known it take place 
while the person was smoking a pipe of to- 
bacco ! 

Against the doctrine itself, Dr. Whitehead 
thinks there can be no just objections : " but," 
says he, "this instantaneous manner of attain- 
ing perfection in the Christian temper, seems to 
have no foundation in scripture ; it even appears 
contrary to reason, and to the constitution and 
order which God has established through all 
animated nature, where we see no instance of 
any thing arriving at perfection in a moment 
And though there can be no doubt but some of 
those who made professions of this happy state 
I 



MR. MAXFIELD. 585 

were both sincere and deeply pious, perhaps 
beyond most of their brethren, yet there seems 
just reason to affirm they were mistaken in the 
judgment they formed of their own attain- 
ments." From the consequences which attend- 
ed this revival, it is just to conclude that many 
of the perfectionists were thus mistaken. 

About the beginning of this business, Mr. 
Maxfield, the first regular lay-preacher among 
the Methodists, having been ordained by the 
Bishop of Londonderry, was in London. For 
some time he laboured conjointly with the rest of 
the preachers. But this did not continue. He 
became, with many others, a mighty dreamer 
of dreams. Antinomianism began to rear it 
head, as it had often done before. Dreams, 
visions, and revelations were now honoured 
more than the written word. The reproofs of 
some preachers only made things worse. One 
George Bell, whom I before mentioned, as an 
intimate of Mr. Maxfield, was a serjeant in the 
life-guards. This man fell into strange errors,, 
if the accounts published of him are true. He 
believed he had the miraculous discernment of 
spirits, and prophesied, in January, 1765, that 
" the end of the world would be on the 28th of 
February following !" Mr. Wesley warmly op- 
posed this, both from the pulpit and the press. 
When the day arrived he preached at Spital- 
fields in the evening, on " Prepare to meet thy 

c c 



386 GEORGE BELL. 

God." This text, taken at such a time, no 
doubt increased the superstitious fears of the 
poor Methodists, many of whom, notwithstand- 
ing all he could say against Bell's absurd pro- 
phesies, were afraid to go to bed, and some 
wandered about in the fields, being persuaded, 
that if the world did not end, at least London 
would be swallowed up by an earthquake ! 

Mr. Wesley silenced Bell, and a separation, 
with Maxfield at the head of it, soon took 
place. 

Mr. Maxfield lived about twenty years after 
this, and preached in a meeting-house, near 
Moorfields, to a large congregation. So little 
do some ministers regard their ordination 
oaths ! 

George Bell died very lately, at his house 
near Paddington. He had, I believe, long 
given up all pretensions to religion. 

Though the separation had removed one hun- 
dred and seventy-five persons from the Wes- 
leyan connexion, yet was not the revival thereby 
stopped; many still professed, that after a 
deep conviction of inbred sin, and of their total 
fall from God, they were so filled with faith 
and love, (and generally in a moment) that sin 
vanished, and they found, from that time, no 
pride, anger, evil desire, or unbelief! You 
may, therefore, well suppose, that his Majesty, 
the king of the bottomless pit, would rage ter- 



pandora's box. 387 

ribly; and stir up all his Antinomian, Calvinian, 
and Pelagian subjects to oppose this great work 
of perfection. He did so. How far he succeeded 
I will describe to you in the words of Mr. 
Fletcher himself, who was the great champion 
of the Doctrine of Perfection ; and who pro- 
fessed to have attained it himself. Speaking of 
the increase of Methodism, he says, cl Leaning 
on her fair daughters, Truth and Love, she 
took a solemn walk through the kingdom, 
and gave a foretaste of heaven to all that en- 
tertained heF." " She might," says he, " by 
this time have turned this favourite isle into a 
land, flowing with spiritual milk and honey: if 
Appollyon, disguised in his angelic robes, had 
not played, and did not continue to play, his 
old game/' 

" At this time we stand particularly in dan- 
ger of splitting upon the Antinomian rock. 
Many smatterers in Christian experience talk of 
finished salvation in Christ, or boast of being in 
a state of justification and sanctification, while 
they know little of themselves, and less of 
Christ. Their whole behaviour testifies, that 
their heart is void of humble love, and full of 
carnal confidence. They cry Lord ! Lord ! 
with as much assurance, and as little right, as 
the foolish virgins. They pass for sweet Chris- 
tians, dear children of God ; but their secret 
reserves, evidence them to be only such be- 

c c 2 



388 -pandora's box. 

lievcrs as Simon Magus, Ananias, and Sapphira, 
Some with Diotrophes love to have the pre- 
eminence, and prate malicious words ; and not 
content therewith, they do not themselves re- 
ceive the brethren, and forbid them that would. 
Some have forsaken the right way, and are gone 
astray, following the way of Balaam, who 
loved the ways of unrighteousness ; they are 
wells without water, and clouds without rain, 
and trees without fruit: with Judas they try to 
load themselves with thick clay, endeavour to 
lay up treasures on earth, and make provision 
for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. Some, 
with the incestuous Corinthian, are led captive 
by fleshly lusts, and fall into the greatest enor- 
mities. Others, with the language of the 
awakened publican in their mouths, are fast 
asleep in their spirits : You hear them speak of 
the corruptions of their hearts in as unaffected 
and airy a manner, as if they talked of freckles 
upon their face. It seems they run down their 
sinful nature only to apologise for their very 
sinful practices ; or to appear great proficients 
in self-knowledge, and court the praise due to 
genuine humility. 

" Others quietly settled on the lees of the 
Laodicean state, by the- whole tenor of their 
life say they are rich and increased in goods and 
have need of nothing : utter strangers to hun- 
ger and thirst after righteousness, they never 



pandora's box. 389 

importunately beg, never wrestle hard for the 
hidden manna : on the contrary, they sing a 
requiem to their poor dead souls, ending, Soul 
take thine ease, thou hast goods laid up in 
Christ for many years, yea, for ever and ever ; 
and thus, like Demas, they go on talking of 
Christ and heaven, but loving their ease, and 
enjoying this present world. 

u Yet many of these, like Herod, hear and 
entertain us gladly ; but like him also they keep 
their beloved sin, pleading for it as a right eye, 
and saving; it as a right hand. To this day their 
bosom-corruption is not only alive, but indulg- 
ed ; their treacherous Delilah is hugged ; and 
their spiritual Agag walks delicately, and boasts 
that the bitterness of death is past, and he shall 
never be hewed in pieces before the Lord : nay, 
to dare so much as to talk of his dying before 
the body, becomes almost an unpardonable 
crime. 

" Forms and fair shews of godliness deceive 
us : many, whom our Lord might well compare 
to whited sepulchres, look like angels of light 
when they are abroad, and prove tormenting 
fiends at home. We see them weep under ser- 
mons, we hear them pray and sing with the 
tongues of men and angels ; they even profess 
the faith that removes mountains ; and yet by 
and by we discover they stumble at every mole- 
hill; every trifling temptation throws them into 



390 pandora's box. 

peevishness, fretfulness, impatience, ill-humour, 
discontent, anger, and sometimes into loud 
passion. 

'"Relative duties are by many grossly ne- 
glected : husbands slight their wives, or wives 
neglect and plague their husbands ; children 
are spoiled, parents disregarded, and masters 
disobeyed : yea, so many are the complaints 
against servants professing godliness on account 
of their unfaithfulness, indolence, pert answer- 
ing again, forgetfulness of their menial condi- 
tion, or insolent expectations, that some serious 
persons prefer those who have no knowledge of 
the truth, to those who make a high profession 
of it/' 

-" With more truth than ever we may say, 

' Ye different sects, who all declare, 
Lo! here is Christ, or Christ is there ; 
Your stronger proofs divinely give, 
And shew us where the Christians live. 
Your claim, alas ! ye cannot prove, 
Ye want the genuine mark of love.* 

u The consequences of this high, and yet 
lifeless profession, are as evident as they are 
deplorable. Selfish views, sinister designs, in- 
veterate prejudice, pitiful bigotry, party-spirit, 
self-sufficiency, contempt of others, envy, jea- 
lousy, making men offenders for a word — possi- 
bly a scriptural word too, magnifying innocent 



pandora's box. 391 

mistakes, putting the worst construction upon 
each other's words and actions, false accusa- 
tions, backbiting, malice, revenge, persecution, 
and a hundred such evils, prevail among reli- 
gious people, to the great astonishment of the 
children of the world, and the unspeakable grief 
of the true Israelites that yet remain among 
us. 

" But this is not all. Some of our hearers do 
not even keep the great outlines of heathen mo- 
rality : not satisfied practically to reject Christ's 
declaration; that it is more blessed to give than 
to receive, they proceed to that pitch of covet- 
ousness and daring injustice, as not to pay their 
just debts ; yea, and to cheat and extort, when- 
ever they have a fair opportunity. How few of 
our societies are there, where this, or some 
other evil has not broken out, and given such 
shakes to the ark of the gospel, that had not 
the Lord wonderfully interposed, it must long- 
ago have been overset ? And you know how 
to this day the name and truth of God are 
openly blasphemed among the baptized heathen, 
through the Antinomian lives of many, who 
say they are Jews when they are not, but by 
their works declare they are of the synagogue 
of Satan." 

This Pandora's box of Methodism, was 
opened, Madam, not by an enemy, nor yet by 
one differing in opinion from the Wesleyans, 



892 pandora's box. 

but from their best friend, and great defender 
of all their doctrines— not by one whose own, 
bad spirit and evil conduct might lead him to 
expose the crimes of others as some excuse for 
his own ; but by one, on whose morals and spi- 
rit his most bitter enemies could never fix a 
stain, whom even the corrosive rancour of 
Calvinian malice could never blacken or con~ 
vince of sin. 

Had any other man besides Mr. Fletcher, 
drawn such a portrait of the Methodists, a nest 
of hornets had been raised to torment him ; 
and the guilt of the accused would have level- 
led a blow at the honesty and faithfulness of the 
accuser. 

I am 3 &c. 



393 



LETTER XXXVI. 



A Revival at Kingszvood — Erasmus— Met hodisti* 
cat Ordination, 



Although hindred by separations, and scan- 
dalised by false brethren, the society of Me- 
thodists continued to increase ; so that in the 
year 1766, notwithstanding four of the preach- 
ers had desisted from travelling, during tre pre- 
ceding year, there were one hundred and 
four preachers, twenty-five thousand nine hun- 
dred and eleven members, and forty districts, 
in England, Ireland, Scotland,' and Wales 
united. 

In the following year a great revival took 
place among the children at Kingswooc ! Many 
of them were converted, and became zealous 
Methodists. I mention this circumstance be- 



3§4 METHODISTICAL ORDiNATIOX. 

cause it is somewhat remarkable, both from the 
age of the converts, and the unfrequency of the 
scholars at this Methodistical college becoming 
serious. Kings wood sends few members to the 
Methodist societies, and very few preachers to 
Conference. 

During the revival, which I mentioned in my 
last, a Greek Bishop, named Erasmus, came to 
Lcndon on a visit. Application having been 
made to the Patriarch of Smyrna, respecting 
the leality of his office, it appeared that he was 
Bishop of Arcadia in Crete. This point being 
ascertained, Erasmus was shortly after beset 
with a whole host of applications from the Me- 
thodist preachers, both local and travelling, to 
givs them episcopal ordination ! This real or 
supposed Greek, (for many still thought the 
i] at er extremely doubtful) having nothing to 
fear in this country from such a measure, will- 
ly complied with the request of these ambi- 
tious Methodist preachers. It was- even said, 
that Tvlr. Wesley himself did strongly press Eras- 
mus to crdain him a Bishop ! This charge, Mr. 
Wesley partly denied ; but not so as to leave no 
doubt on the minds of some of his friends, Or- 
dained Bishop, however, he was not ; yet that 
did not hinder him from exercising the power 
and office of one : for, strange to tell ! Mr. 
Wesley did afterwards actually take upon him- 
self to ordain some of the lay-preachers ; yea, 



METHODISTICAL ORDINATION. 395 

some of them he made into a kind of Episcopal 
Bishops ! — Was ever such a thing known before 
or since in the annals of our Church history ? — 
But he was teazed into that weakness by the 
repeated importunities of Dr. Coke and a few 
others • and though Mr. Wesley often boasted 
that he did nothing in a corner ; yet was this 
mock ordination — this episcopal farce,, per- 
formed in a private manner, in a chamber ! 

A great increase of Methodism had been 
brought about in America by the labours of 
Whitefield and some others ; and after the In- 
dependence of the American Colonies had been 
acknowledged, Mr. Wesley thought himself justi- 
fied in ordaining Dr. Coke, and through him, 
Francis Asbury, to be joint superintendants over 
the brethren in North America. That is to say, 
he made Dr. Coke into a Methodistical Bishop, 
who communicated his second-hand functions 
to F. Asbury 1 Richard Whatcoat and Thomas 
Vasey were ordained Elders, to administer the 
blessed Sacraments to the newly emancipated 
Americans ! 

Mr. Wesley also prepared a Liturgy, little 
differing from that of the Church of England, 
which he advised the travelling-preachers to 
use on the Lord's day, in all the congregations, 
reading the Litany only on Wednesdays and Fri- 
days, and praying extempore on all other days ; 
at the same time he advised the newly-created 



396 METH0D1STICAL ORIGINATION 

Elders to administer the Supper of the Lord on 
every Lord's day. 

" If any man," says he, " will point out a 
more rational and scriptural way of feeding and 
"guiding those poor sheep in the wilderness, I 
will gladly embrace it. At present I cannot see 
any better method than that I have taken. 

:c It has indeed been proposed to desire some 
of our English Bishops to ordain part of our 
preachers for America. But to this I object, 
I. I desired the Bishop of London to ordain 
only one ; but could not prevail. 2. If they 
consented, we know the slowness of their pro- 
ceedings ; but the matter admits of no delay. 
3. If they would ordain them ?wzv, they would 
likewise expect to govern them. And how 
grievously would this entangle us ! (Mark this, 
Madam !) 4. As our American brethren are 
now totally disentangled, both from the state 
and the English hierarchy, we dare not entangle 
them again, either with the one or the other ! 
(And mark this also!) They are now at full 
liberty to follow the Scriptures and the Primitive 
Church. And we judge it best that they should 
stand fast in that liberty, wherewith God has 
so strangely made them free ! ! !" 

This reasoning, and the consequent practice 
of ordination, came, Madam, not from a Dis- 
senting Minister and one who had always been 



FORGETFULNESS. 397 

friendly to the cause of the oppressed Colonists, 
but from the Rev. John Wesley, M. A. some- 
time Fellow of Lincoln College, and at that 
time a true son of the Church — a Presbyter of 
the Church of England ; who had a little before 
written " A calm Address to the American Co- 
lonies," in which he takes the side of their op- 
pressors ! It is probable that he had " forgot- 
ten" both that he had ever written the Address, 
and that he was Presbyter of the Church of 
England, for surely nothing but forgetfulness 
could have allowed so gross a dereliction of all 
his former principles, as appeared both in the 
practice of ordination, and his manner of de^ 
fending it. We know Mr. Wesley could, oc- 
casionally, remember to forget, as he did in 
the instance which formed part of his short con- 
troversy with the late Dr. Evans of Bristol. In 
that instance, Mr. Wesley did actually pretend 
to have forgotten ever having read a certain 
pamphlet, written in favour of the Americans, 
and which he strongly recommended for notice 
in a Bristol newspaper to Mr. Pine the printer. 
Mr, Wesley had changed his opinion concern- 
ing the subject of dispute between the Ameri- 
cans and the mother country, and when he was 
charged with a deviation from his former prin- 
ciples, he said he had forgotten ever seeing or re- 
commending the book which had, if not actu- 
ally produced, yet very much strengthened, his 



39S METHODISTICAL ORDINATION" 

favourable opinion of the Colonists ! ! Court 
politicians can occasionally forget such import- 
ant matters; as our late celebrated Premier could 
once have testified ; but that Mr. Wesley had 
really forgotten the circumstance here alluded 
to is the most unlikely thing in the world. 
Those who have read Dr. Evan's sensible and 
interesting Letter to Mr. Fletcher, will be able 
to form their own opinion of the matter ; for 
the credit of my hero I will not enter farther 
into the question. For the same reason, I 
should wish to decline any farther observation 
on the practice of Methodistical ordination ; 
but as this affair forms a new casein the history 
of Methodism, I cannot pass it over slightly. 

Mr. Charles Wesley set his face against the 
practice, and opposed it with all his might ; so 
did several of the lay-preachers, and other per- 
sons of respectability in the society. Yet how- 
ever repugnant it might be to the wishes of 
the English Methodists, it met the approbation 
of the Americans, who at their Conference, 
held at Baltimore, in the year 1785, agreed to 
publish Dr. Coke's Letter Testimonial, with 
their own sanction of the affair. "Therefore," 
say they, " at this Conference we formed our- 
selves into an independent church : and follow- 
ing the counsel of Mr. John Wesley, who re- 
commended the episcopal mode of church go- 
vernment, we thought it best to become an 



W AMERICA. 399 

episcopal church, making the episcopal office 
elective, and the elected superintendant, or 
bishop, amenable to the body of ministers and 
preachers. 

'" As the translators of our version of the 
Bible have used the English 'word bishop instead 
of superintendant, it has been thought by us, 
that it would appear more scriptural to adopt 
their term bishop." 

At that time there were more -than eighteen 
thousand members in the societies in America, 
who submitted to his advice and authority. 

About this time Mr. Wesley observes, " I was 
considering, how strangely the grain of mus- 
tard-seed, planted about fifty years ago, had 
grown up. It has spread through all Great Bri- 
tain and Ireland, the Isle of Wight, and the 
Isle of Man : then to America, through the 
whole Continent, into Canada; the Leeward 
Islands, and Newfoundland." 

I am, &c. 



400 



LETTER XXXPIL 



Methodistkal Ordination, concluded. 



When Mr. Wesley ordained some of the itine- 
rants, says Dr. Whitehead, a foundation was laid 
for a change in the ancient constitution of Me- 
thodism, of very extensive influence, and which, 
if frequently acted upon, would effect the down- 
fal of the present order of things among them, 
if not totally extirpate the name of Me- 
thodist. 

Mr. W r esley had long claimed the power or 
right of ordaining to the ministry, but said it 
was not probable that he should ever exercise it. 
For a long course of years he steadily resisted 
every measure which tended to alter the relative 
situation of the societies to the etablished church, 
and to the various denominations of dissenters 



METHODISTICAL ORDINATION. 401 

to which any of the members might belong. It 
is not easy, says one of his biographers, to as- 
sign a sufficient reason why Mr. Wesley, in the 
eighty-second year of his age, should depart 
from a line of conduct he had hitherto so strict- 
ly observed ; especially if he acted according to 
his own judgment, and of his own free choice. 
However this may be, a plan was proposed in 
private, to a few clergymen who attended the 
conference in the year 1784, at Leeds, that Mr. 
Wesley should ordain one or two of the preach- 
ers for the societies in America. But the cler- 
gymen very properly opposed it. Mr. Fletcher 
was consulted by letter ; who advised, that a 
bishop should be prevailed upon to ordain them, 
and then Mr. Wesley might appoint them to such 
offices in the societies as he thought proper, and 
give them letters testimonial of the appoint- 
ments he had given them. Mr. Wesley well 
knew, that no bishop would ordain them at his 
recommendation, and therefore seemed inclined 
to do it himself! In this purpose, however, he 
appeared so languid, if not wavering, that Dr. 
Coke thought it necessary to use some further 
means to urge him to the performance of it. — 
Accordingly, August 9, Mr. Wesley being then 
in Wales, on his way to Bristol, the Doctor sent 
him the following letter :— ~ 



D D 



402 METHODISTICAL ORDENATIOM. 



" Honoured and dear Sir, 

cc The more maturely I consider the subject, 
the more expedient it appears to me, that the 
power of ordaining others should he received by me 
from you, by the imposition of your hands; and 
that you should lay hands on Brother Whatcoat 
and Brother Vasey, for the following reasons: 
h It seems to me the most scriptural way, and 
most agreeable to the practice of the primitive 
churches. 2. I may want all the influence in 
America which you can throw into my scale. 
Mr. Brackenbury informed me at Leeds, that he 
saw a letter in London from Mr. Asbury, in 
which he observed, that he would not receive 
any person deputed by you, with part of the su- 
perintendency of the work invested in him; or 
words which evidently implied so much. I do 
not find any the least degree of prejudice in my 
mind against Mr. Asbury; on the contrary, a very 
great love and esteem; and am determined not 
to stir a finger without his consent, unless mere 
sheer necessity obliges me; but rather to lie at 
his feet in all things. But as the journey is long, 
arid you cannot spare me often, and it is well to 
provide against all events, and an authority for- 
mally received from you will (I am conscious of 
it) be fully admitted by the people, and my ex- 
ercising the office of ordination without thatjfor- 



METHODISTICAL ORDINATION. 403 

vial authority may be disputed, if there be any 
opposition or. any other account ; I could there- 
fore earnestly wish yen would exercise that 
power in this instance, which I have not the 
shadow of a doubt but God hath invested you 
with for the good of our connexion. I think 
you have tried me too often to doubt whether I 
will in any degree use the power you are pleased 
to invest me with, farther than I believe abso- 
lutely necessary for the prosperity of the work. 
3. In respect to my brethren (Brothers What- 
coat and Vesey) ; it is very uncertain, indeed, 
whether any of the clergy mentioned by Brother 
Rankin, will stir a step with me in the work, 
except Mr. Jarrit ; and it is by no means cer- 
tain that even he will choose to join me in or- 
daining : and propriety and universal practice 
make it expedient, that I should have two pres- 
byters with me in this work. In short, it ap- 
pears to me that every thing should be prepared, 
and every thing proper be done, that can pos- 
sibly be done this side the zcater. You can do 

all this in Mr. C n's house, in your chamber ; 

and afterwards (according to Mr. Fletcher's ad- 
vice) give us letters testimonial of the different 
offices with which you have been pleased to in- 
vest us. For the purpose of laying hands en 
Brothers Whatcoat and Vasey, I can bring Mr. 

C down with me, by which you will have 

two presbyters with you. In respect to Brother 
dd2 



404 METHODISTICAL ORDINATION. 

Rankin's argument, that you will escape a great 
deal of odium by omitting this, it is nothing. 
Either it will be known or not known ; if not 
known, then no odium will arise : but if known, 
you will be obliged to acknowledge that I acted 
under your direction, or suffer me to sink under 
the weight of my enemies, with perhaps your 
brother at the head of them. I shall entreat 
you to ponder these things. 

Your most dutiful, 

T. Coke." 

Soon after the ordination, Dr. Coke, with his 
two companions, sailed for America; where they 
arrived in time to meet the American confer- 
ence held at Baltimore. Here the Doctor open- 
ed his commission, and consecrated Mr. Asbury 
a bishop ; and gave the societies, formed by the 
preachers on that continent, a new name, calling 
them " The Methodist Episcopal Church in 
America." He preached a sermon on this occa- 
sion, which was afterwards printed, and in which 
he labours to defend this new order of things. 
He begins this sermon by abusing the English 
hierarchy; yet, in a letter from Ireland, written 
some time after, he tells Mr. Wesley, that he 
would as soon commit adultery as preach pub- 
licly against the church, On this, Dr. White- 
head observes, " I must say this of the Doctor, 
that with respect to adultery 1 think him very 



METHODISTICAL ORDINATION. 405 

innocent, but in bringing railing accusations 
against others, I think him very guilty/' It has 
already appeared, in the course of these letters, 
that this observation is strictly just and pro- 
per. 

I have already said, that Mr. Charles Wesley 
opposed his brother's ordination-work with all 
his might. He did so, to his great credit as a 
minister of the church of Ens-land and an honest 
man. As a dissenter, I can have no objection 
to Mr. Wesley, or any other Christian man, lay- 
ing hands on as many of their fellow-Christians 
as zvish it ; but I do contend, that as a regular 
clergyman, Mr. Wesley did certainly violate 
every principle of the church to which he still 
professed to belong; and that, by taking upon 
himself to ordain others to the ministry, he 
threw off that subjection to the legal bishop 
which every regular clergyman is supposed to 
owe to those under whose authority he acts. 

There may, perhaps,, be no express law for- 
bidding presbyters of the church of England to 
make bishops of their brethren ; but that law 
which gives the power of ordination to the 
bishops themselves, plainly implies, that it shall 
not be assumed by any inferior order of men in 
the church. 

It may be remarked, that had Mr. Wesley re- 
fused to exercise his supposed power of ordina- 



406* METKODISTICAL ORDINATIOtf. 

tloxi, by not listening to the earnest solicitations 
of his ambitious counsellors, Dr. Coke might 
have exercised his own power ; for he also is a 
presbyter of the church of England. He might 
have agreed with some ambitious lay-preacher, 
first to ordain him presbyter, when he would be 
on an equal footing with Mr. Wesley himself; 
and in return for this honour, the newly-made 
episcopal brother might have conferred a 
greater honour on the Doctor, by consecrating 
him a bishop. Thus would the lay-preacher 
pay the ordained presbyter with interest, for 
the honour which had been conferred on him- 
self! This method would have been equally 
legal with that which was taken with Mr. Wes- 
ley. But it was brfluence the Doctor sought af- 
ter, as well as power and a title; and this could 
not be obtained through any other channel 
than that of Mr. Wesley — the great father of all 
the churches. Whenever he spake, it was done ; 
when he commanded, it stood fast ! Yes, Ma- 
dam, had the name, and even the office of 
bishop, been all the good Doctor had wanted, 
he might easily have obtained the end of his 
wishes, by taking the method I have just laid 
down. The bargain would shortly have been 
struck ; it w T as only saying, " ITI make you 
a presbyter of the church, if you'll afterwards 
consent to make me a bishop." Or as som$ 



METHODISTICAL ORDINATION. 407 

Roman Catholics have expressed themselves 
concerning the broken order of succession at 
the Reformation: " If you'll make me arch- 
bishop of York, I'll make you archbishop of 
Canterbury !" 

As Mr. Wesley was never publicly elected by 
any presbyters and people to the office of a bi- 
shop, nor ever consecrated to it, when he pre- 
sumed to usurp that office, his brother Charles 
exclaimed — 



" So easily are bishops made, 
By man's or woman's whim, 

Wesley his hands on Coke hath laid ; 
But who laid hands on him r" 



Dr. Whitehead concludes his very able rea- 
soning on the subject of methodistical ordina- 
tion, with the following observations: — " A 
scheme of ordination so full of confusion and 
absurdity, as that among the Methodists, can 
surely never filiate itself on Mr. Wesley: it 
must have proceeded from a mere chaotic 
brain, where wild confusion reigns. Nor can 
I easily believe that Mr. Wesley would ever 
have adopted so mis-shapen a brat, had not 
his clear perception of things been rendered 
feeble and dirn^ by flattery, persuasion, and 
age." 



408 METHODISTICAL ORDINATION 

Should you be disposed to enter farther in- 
to the subject of methodistical ordination, give 
me leave to refer you to Dr. Whitehead's Life 
of Wesley, volume the second, where this mat- 
ter is treated in a perfectly full and satisfactory 
manner 



I am, &c. 



409 



LETTER XXXFIIL 



Tolerant Spirit of Methodism mist a ted — Convert* 
tide- Act — Tolerant Spirit of the Church* 



DEAR MADAM, 

In the year 1788, Mr. Wesley taking a review 
of the nature of the work in which he had so 
long been engaged, thus speaks of it: u There 
is no other religious society under heaven, 
which requires nothing of men in order to their 
admission into it, but a desire to save their souls* 
Look all around you ; you cannot be admitted 
into the church or society of the Presbyterians, 
Baptists, Quakers, or any other, unless you 
hold the same opinions with them, and adhere 
to the same mode of worship. The Methodists 
alone do not insist on your holding this or that 
opinion, but they think and let think. Neither 



410 TOLERANT SPIRIT OF METHODISM 

do they impose a particular mode of worship, 
hut you may continue to worship in your for- 
mer manner, be it what it may. Now I do not 
know any other religious society, either ancient 
or modern, wherein such liberty of conscience 
is now allowed, or has been allowed since the 
age of the apostles ! Here is our glorying, and 
a glorying peculiar to us ! What society shares 
it with us r" 

Were this representation, in all its parts, ex- 
actly true and just, the Methodist would indeed 
he the Church of Godr— the glory of every other 
church — the Lamb's wife, adorned as a bride 
for the bridegroom. We should never hear of 
expulsions for supposed heresies — there would 
no longer be proud looks and disdainful carriage 
manifested towards those who differ in opinion 
from their brethren — all anger and strife and 
bitterness would be done away — persecution 
would hide its horrid visage — bigotry would be 
forgotten, and uncharitableness be swallowed 
up of Christian love and philosophical forbear- 
ance. But is this the case among Methodists 
more than any other sect ? I know it is not. I 
know, that to call into question any of their 
doctrines, or to dispute the validity of any part 
of their discipline, is a sure ground of excom- 
munication. Nay, the very last Conference, 
(1806) they expelled one of the travelling 
preachers, for holding some opinions concerning 



MISTATED. 411 

justification by faith and the witness of the 
spirit, which the Conference thought were Anti- 
Methodistical ; but which the expelled preacher 
has since attempted to prove, are strictly agree- 
able to the doctrines taught by Wesley and 
Fletcher. 

Whatever the society of Methodists may re- 
quire of candidates on their admission, it is cer- 
tain, that, having once entered, it is expected 
they will not vary one jot or tittle from the true 
Methodistical creed. Else why is it that the 
trust deeds of their chapels have a clause in. 
them, requiring ail the preachers to preach only 
such doctrines as are laid down in Wesley's Ser- 
mons and Fletcher's Checks ? Nay, Madam, 
if any private member should broach any other 
faith than theirs, expulsion from ihe society 
would infallibly be t'he consequence! What 
confidence then are we to place m the boasting 
professions of liberality co -itained in the extract 
I have just made? Truly it may be said of it 
that " All is false and hollow !" 

Mr. Wesley did not, I am persuaded, design; 
to deceive when he made those declarations 
concerning his connexion ; but he forgot him- 
self in the warmth of his admiration ; and spoke 
of Methodism rather as he wished it to be, 
than as it really was. I have thought it neces- 
sary to let you know this that you may not be 
misled by false appearances, and partial repre- 



412 CONVENTICLE ACT. 

sentations ; and let not the Methodists deem 
me their enemy because I have told the truth. 

I ought to have informed you before, that 
after a long conversation with Mr. Clulow, an 
attorney, Mr. Wesley judged it expedient to 
have all his chapels and travelling preachers 
duly licenced according to the act of tolera- 
tion, hoping thereby, notwithstanding their 
professing to belong to the church, to escape 
the inconvenience arising from the conventicle 
act. This was certainly a safe and prudent 
step; but they ought, from the moment of tak- 
ing the oath, to consider the meeting-houses 
as dissenting chapels, and the preachers as dis- 
senting ministers ; for the act, whose protection 
they claim, was made for persons " Dissenting 
from the Church of England." While Mr. Wes- 
ley and his people continued to belong to the 
church, I know not why they should expect to 
be exempted from the penalties of the conven- 
ticle act. That act, like all others that would 
infringe the liberty of conscience, I grant is 
"an execrable act,'' as Mr. Wesley himself calls 
it ; but that gentleman ought not to have lost 
sight of his still being a churchman, and that 
as such he was bound to obey all the laws of 
the church to which he belonged. He had 
taken the church for better and for worse; and 
ought either to have submitted to her dictates, 
or honestly to have withdrawn from her com- 
munion. 



TOLERANT SPIRIT OF THE CHURCH. 413 

It argues very strongly for the spirit of libe- 
rality which is now found among the members 
of our national establishment, that so few pro- 
secutions take place against clergymen holding 
doctrines, and following practices, contrary to 
the canons and articles of the church to which 
they belong. Here we have Calvinian, Ar- 
minian, Unitarian, Swedenborgian, Pelagian, 
Arian, Socinian, Sabellian, Trinitarian, and I 
do not know how many other sorts of clergy- 
men in our church, some starving on a curacy, 
and others fattening on a bishopric ; we have 
Methodist clergymen, and clergymen following 
no method at all, but that of lounging at home, 
and hiring others, at half price, to do their duty. 
All these classes of clergymen are retained in 
the church ; live upon her revenues, and are 
protected by her laws. And yet we are some- 
times told of the intolerance of the church, of 
persecutions for righteousness' sake, and of the 
operations of certain " execrable acts !" Truly, 
Madam, I think our national church is the 
most liberal of churches; and her pale every 
way the most extensive. 

The test acts will ever be a stumbling block 
to the Dissenters, and the Catholics have just 
cause of complaint ; but let these men once 
enter the church, and they may follow any 
practices, and hold any doctrines they please. — 
They have only to find out the true method of 

5 



414 TOLERANT SPIRIT (TF THE CHURCH. 

stifling conscience ; and the ingenious one of 
reconciling principles and practices otherwise in 
opposition to each other; and then sign Arch- 
deacon Paley's "Terms of Pacification ;" and 
none shall afterwards dare to make them afraid ! 
Were the letter of our canon laws agreeable 
to the spirit and general practice of their present 
supporters, I should have very few objections to 
uniting in fellowship with the Church of Eng- 
land, neither do I see how any reasonable man 
could object to such an union. The example 
and influence of Dissenters have made it un- 
fashionable to persecute for conscience sake ; 
and hence it is that a great majority of our re- 
gular clergy have imperceptibly imbibed that spi- 
rit of toleration, which prevents the laws against 
Dissenters being put into execution, I look 
forward with pleasure to the time when even the 
letter of our ecclesiastical laws shall breathe a 
perfectly mild and liberal spirit, when the pious 
wish of Archbishop Tillotson shall be accom- 
plished ; and we shall no longer hear of Chris- 
tians " perishing everlastingly" for any venial 
error of judgment. To the light of science 
and the humanizing influence of reason and 
philosophy, I look for that spirit which will 
counteract the growing authority of Calvinian 
bitterness, and finally triumph over puritanic 
barbarity. Yet while we hear men, and those 
calling themselves the only true sons of the 
4 



CONVENTICLE ACT. 415 

church, pleading for persecution, by the vin- 
dication of Calvin's affair with the unfortunate 
Servetus, there is certainly something to dread 
from the spread of this branch of Methodists, 
especially when we consider how many of their 
preachers have found their way into the church. 
This alarm is not a little strengthened when we 
see the crowds that attend the ministry of these 
pretended evangelicals. 

Finding great inconvenience from a professed 
adherence to the church, and not willing either 
to alter the mode of his proceeding, nor yet to 
acknowledge himself a Dissenter, Mr. Wesley 
stated the case to a member of parliament, hop- 
ing the legislature might be prevailed on to in- 
terpose, and free the Methodists from the penal- 
ties of the conventicle act. He states the cause 
thus : — tf Last month a few poor people met to- 
gether in Lincolnshire, to pray, and to praise 
God, in a friend's house : there was no preach- 
ing at all. Two neighbouring Justices fined 
the man of the house twenty pounds. I suppose 
he was not worth twenty shillings. — Upon this, 
his household goods were distrained and sold to 
pay the fine. He appealed to the quarter-sessions, 
but all the Justices averred, f The Methodists 
could have no relief from the act of toleration, 
because they went to church ; and that, so 
long as they did so, the conventicle act should 
be executed upon them.' 



#16 CONVENTICLE ACT. 

u Last Sunday, when one of our preachers 
was beginning to speak to a quiet congregation, 
a neighbouring Justice sent a constable to seize 
him till he had paid twenty pounds — telling him 
his licence was good for nothing, ' Because he 
was a Churchman.' 

ci Now, Sir, what can the Methodists do ? 
They are liable to be ruined by the conventicle 
act, and they have no relief from the act of 
toleration ! If this is not oppression, what is ? 
Where then is English liberty ? The liberty 
of Christians, yea, of every rational creature, 
who as such, has a right to worship God ac- 
cording to his own conscience ? But waving 
the question of right and wrong, what prudence 
is there in oppressing such a body of loyal sub- 
jects ? If these good magistrates could drive 
them, not only out of Lincolnshire, but out of 
England, who would be gainers thereby ? Not 
his Majesty, whom we honour and love : not 
his ministers, whom we love and serve for his 
sake. Do they wish to throw away so many 
thousand friends, who are now bound to them 
by stronger ties than that of interest? — If you 
will speak a word to Mr. Pitt on that head, you 
will oblige/' &c. 

This rea'soning is certainly very just and pro- 
per ; yet it must be granted, that the Justices 
in Lincolnshire did no more than they were 
bound to do by the laws. While the church 



OBLDTENCE TO THE CHURCH. 417 

and state continue to be united, it is the busi- 
ness of the civil magistrate to see that the eccle- 
siastical, as well as all the other laws, are duly 
kept and obeyed ; and surely it must be allow- 
ed, that the church of England has as much 
right as other churches to make what laws she 
chooses for the government of her own mem- 
bers ; and such the Methodists professed them- 
selves to be. If any do not like those laws and 
regulations which she has enacted, they are at 
liberty to dissent ; after which neither the church 
of England, nor any other church, has a right 
to interfere with them : But while they con- 
tinue in membership, they ought to pay proper 
deference to all established rules of her 
communion. The Methodists may thank the 
lenient spirit of the churchmen of the present 
day, that they are not forcibly expelled as un- 
ruly members. This they would think a hard 
case ; and so it would be : But law is law, said 
the facetious George Alexander Steevens ; and I 
wish the Wesleyans would imitate the forbear- 
ance of their brethren of the church, when any 
one of their own members sees fit to violate the 
conventicle acts of Methodism. Whatsoever ye 
would that men should do to you, do ye even 
so to them. 

The time is now approaching that we must 
take our leave of the chief hero of this history, 
Mr. John Wesley. The last annual Conference 



'418 STATE OF THE CONNEXIONS. 

at which he presided, was held at Bristol, in 
the year 1790. At that time there were in the 
connexion, 216 circuits; 5J1 preachers; and 
i 20, 233 members! 

When we consider that all these preachers 
and people had arisen among the Methodists in 
little more than fifty years, we shall be astonish- 
ed at the success which attended the preaching 
of Mr. Wesley and his lay-brethren. Thus have 
they continued to increase, yea, and they do 
still continue to make converts to their faith 
and practices with equal, if not with greater, 
rapidity than ever. 



I am, &c. 



419 



LETTER XXXIX. 



Ilr. Wesley's Reflections on himself— The last 
Words and Sentiments of dying Men no Test of 
Truth — Sickness and Death of Mr. Wesley — ■ 
Inscriptions — Remarks on Mr. Wesley's general 
Character, 



Ox the 28th of June, 1790, Mr. Wesley ob- 
serves: — "This day 1 enter into my eighty- 
eighth year. For above eighty-six years I found 
none of the infirmities of old age ; my eyes did 
not wax dim, neither was my natural strength 
abated. But last August I found almost a sud- 
den change ; my eyes were so dim that no glasses 
would help me ; my strength likewise quite for- 
sook me, and probably will not return in this, 
world. But I feel no pain from head to foot, 

E E 2 



420 DYING WORDS NO TEST OF TRUTH. 

only it seems nature is exhausted, and humanly 
speaking, will sink more and more, till — 

16 The weary springs of life stand still at last." 

The reflections of a great man, on his own ap- 
proaching dissolution, must always be interest- 
ing. We watch such a one with anxious curio- 
sity, and listen to his dying words as the test of 
his former sincerity, if not of the truth of his 
former opinions. The notion, however, which 
Dr. Young has broached, that though men may 
live fools, they cannot die such, is certainly not 
in every instance to be relied upon. For we may 
be certain, that as the wicked have no bands 
in their death, so neither will the circumstance 
of approaching dissolution operate upon the 
mind so as to remove ignorance and infuse 
knowledge. If we would be truly wise, we must 
suffer the discipline of die mind in life; and cor- 
rect our mistaken notions or vicious propensities 
while in health and vigour. The night cometh, 
when no man can work. It is easy from hence 
to infer, that the dying language of a man ought 
never to be regarded as the sure test of any 
thing more, respecting the truth of his opi- 
nions, or the propriety of his former ac- 
tions, than that he was a man of honesty and 
sincerity. 



LAST SICKNESS OF MR. WESLET. 421 

Mr. John Wesley, and Dr. Joseph Priestley, 
held sentiments in religion directly opposite; 
yet both these gentlemen left this world, as every 
good and wise man must wish to leave it. 

The momentous period which Mr. Wesley had 
so calmly anticipated, at length arrived ; and he 
met the last attack of the king of terrors with 
true Christian fortitude. After having dined at 
Islington, on Saturday, the 19th of February, 
1791, he desired a friend to read to him from the 
fourth to the seventh chapter of Job, inclusive. 
The next morning he rose at his usual hour, 
but found himself quite unfit for the duties of 
the day. He lay down again about seven in the 
morning, and slept several hours. In the even- 
ing, he came down to supper. On Monday, the 
2 1st, he seemed much better, and rode to Twick- 
enham to see a friend. The next morning* Iiq 
proceeded with his labours, as usual, at the City- 
Road ; and on the Wednesday, he preached his 
last sermon, at Leatherhead, from " Seek ye the 
Lord while he may be found ; call ye upon him 
while he is near.' 3 

On Friday he returned from visiting a Mr. 
Wolf's family, at Balaam, and found himself ex- 
tremely ill. He immediately requested to be 
left alone for half an hour. He afterwards drank 
a little mulled wine, which he immediately threw 
up, and said, " I must lie down/' Dr. White- 



422 DEATH OF MR. WESLEY, 

bead, his future biographer, visited him. When 
that gentleman came into the room, " Doctor," 
said Mr. Wesley cheerfully, " they are more 
afraid than hurt." Most of the day he had a 
quick pulse, and a degree of fever and stupor; 
which continued till Sunday morning, when he 
got up, and attempted to resume his wonted 
cheerfulness. But attempting to converse much, 
his strength failed him, and he lay clown, say- 
ing, after his friends had prayed with him — 
" There is no need of more ; when at Bristol (in 
J 733) my words were— 

" I the chief of sinners am, 
But Jesus died for me." 

Intimating that such were his present feelings 
and language. 

On Tuesday morning, the 29th, he sung two 
stanzas of a hymn : then lying still a short time, 
he called for pen and ink, and attempted to 
write; but could not. A person desired to 
write for him, and requested to know what he 
would say. He replied, "Nothing, but that 
God is with us !" These words he repeated 
more than once before his departure,, with con- 
siderable force and energy. His weakness, and 
his joyful state of mind, continued till the last 
great struggle of nature gave him release from 



CHARACTER, &C. 423 

his pain and weakness, and sent him triumph- 
ing to 

" Another and a better world !" 

He died without a groan, on the second of 
March, while a number of his friends were kneel- 
ing around his bed. This was in the eighty- 
eighth year of his age, and the sixty-fifth of his 
public ministry. His death was such as we 
might reasonably expect such a life as he had 
spent would naturally produce — 

u The chamber where the good man meets his fate 
Is privileged beyond the common walk of virtuous life, 
Quite in the verge of heaven l" 

Various have been the attempts to delineate 
the character of the late Rev. John Weslev ; and 
these uniformly bear testimony to his patient in- 
dustry, great zeal, and moral worth. That 
drawn by Mr. John Hampson, in his Life of Mr. 
Wesley, is perhaps the most just and impartial 
of any that has yet appeared. Most others are 
too much in the sickening style of fulsome pane- 
gyric ; and some few are found to have been too 
severe upon Mr. Wesley's foibles; for foibles he 
certainly had, and those at times rather glaring ; 
but his excellencies outshone all his errors, and 
his name and character must continue to be 



424 CHARACTER, &C. 

respected, while the human mind retains its in- 
herent love of virtue and order. 

He was honest, punctual, and regular ; cheer- 
ful, warm, and generous; but credulous, ambi- 
tious, and enthusiastical. Some people have 
thought, that his character had something of 
cunning in it; and indeed his affair with the 
late Dr. Evans, which I mentioned in a former 
letter, seems to justify such an opinion : but it 
should be remembered, that he was placed in a 
very critical situation. His private principles 
might sometimes be at variance with the gene- 
ral good of his societies; and this latter con- 
sideration outweighed every other with him. In 
such cases, it is hard to withstand the tempta- 
tions to pious fraud, and to the doing of evil 
that good may come. If, therefore, Mr. Wesley 
was at any time the slave of circumstances, or 
the dupe of others, great charity ought to be ex- 
ercised towards him. Perhaps not another man 
then living could have been found, who would 
have acquitted himself with greater credit to his 
own character, and to the cause in which he was 
engaged, than did the Rev. John Wesley. 

In controversy, lie was sometimes dogmatical 
in a very great degree; and when he conceived 
any of his people in danger of being drawn 
aside from his communion, he would interpose 
his authority in a manner that bore the appear- 
ance of much self-confidence and authority. The 

] 



ORIGINAL LETTER OF MR. WESLEY. A c 25 

following original Utter, furnished me by the 
gentleman to whom it was addressed, will exhi- 
bit a fair specimen of his manner on those occa- 
sions — 

" To Mr. John Simpson, Yarmouth. 

" London, Nov. 28, 1774, 



( 



My dear Brother, 

" Read over, with earnest humble prayer, Mr. 
Fletcher's three Checks, and I think you will 
see things clearly. Or read the Farther Appeal, 
in the beginning of which those points are clearly 
stated. You ask, 1 . Are any persons mentioned 
in the New Testament, as seeking faith, who have 
not found \t? Certainly there are. Seek and ye 
shall find. They had not found it yet, and every 
man must seek for the good pearl before he can 
find it. But the word seeker you do not use 
2. Is any thing proposed to a convinced sinner 
in scripture, but to believers only ? Yes. How 
read est thou ? Cease from evil, learn to do well ; 
or God will not give you faith. Bring forth 
fruits meet for repentance ; otherwise you are 
never likely to believe. 3. Ought every unbe- 
liever to pray or communicate ? Yes. Ask, and 
it (faith) shall be given you. And if you be- 
lieve Christ died for guilty, helpless sinners, then 
eat that bread, and drink of that cup. 



4.26 CHARACTER^ &C. 

" The Philistines are upon thee, Sampson !— 
Beware the Lord do not depart from thee ! I am 
afraid, in confidence of your own strength, you 
have been disputing with some subtle Antino- 
mian, and he has confounded your intellects. 
Talk with him no more, at the peril of your soul, 
and beware of their pernicious books. You have 
been warned by me, now, escape for your life ! 

" I am j^our affectionate brother, 

" JoHtf Wesley." 

I shall, in my next, lay before you a full and 
impartial view of the principal doctrines that are 
taught by the Methodists. In the mean time, 
believe me, 



Yours sincerely. 



427 



LETTER XL. 



Of the Methodist Doctrines. 



DEAR MADAM, 

I must now proceed to give you an account of 
the doctrines maintained by the Methodists ; 
and lest I should be accused of partiality in the 
performance of this duty, I will state the opi- 
nions of this people in their own words. 

In a pamphlet written by Mr. Wesley, entitled, 

II A further Appeal to Men of Reason and Re- 
ligion," he has laid before the world a summary 
of his religious opinions. I shall, therefore, 
give such extracts from this book as are neces- 
sary to communicate the needful information on 
this subject. 

" All I teaqh respects either the nature and 
condition of justification; the nature and con- 



428 METHOBIST 

dition of salvation; the nature of justifying and 
saving faith ; or the Author of faith and salva- 
tion. 

" First, The nature of justification. It some- 
times means, our acquittal at the last da}^. But 
this is altogether out of the present question: 
that justification whereof our articles and homi- 
lies speak, meaning present forgiveness, pardon 
of sins, and consequently acceptance with God : 
who therein declares his righteousness or mercy, 
by or for the remission of the sins that are past, 
saying, I will he merciful to thy unrighteous- 
ness, and thine iniquities I will remember no 
more. 

" I helicve the condition of this, is faith: I 
mean, not only, that without faith we cannot be 
justified ; but also, that as soon as any one has 
true faith, in that moment lie is justified. 

" Good works follow this faith, but cannot go 
before it: much less can sanctirlcation, which 
implies a continual course of good works, spring- 
ing from holiness of heart. But it is allowed* 
that entire sanctification goes before our justifi- 
cation at the last day. 

1 ' It is allowed also, that repentance and fruits 
meet for repentance, go before faith. Repent- 
ance absolutely must go before faith : fruits 
meet for it, if there be opportunity. By repent- 
ance, I mean, conviction of sin, producing real 
desires ami sincere resolutions of amendment: 



DOCTRINES. 429 

and by fruits meet for repentance, forgiving our 
brother, ceasing from evil, doing good, using 
the ordinances of God, and in general obeying 
him according to the measure of grace which 
we have received. But these I cannot as vet 
term good works ; because they do not spring 
from faith and the love of God. 

By salvation, I mean, not barely, according 
to the vulgar notion, deliverance from hell, or 
going to heaven ; but a present deliverance from 
sin, a restoration of the soul to its primitive 
health, its original purity ; a recovery of the 
divine nature ; the renewal of our souls after the 
image or' God, in righteousness and true holi- 
ness, in justice, mercy, and truth. This implies 
all holy and heavenly tempers, and by conse- 
quence all holiness of conversation. 

" Now, if by salvation we mean, a present 
salvation from sin, we cannot say, holiness is the 
condition of it. For it is the thing itself. Sal- 
vation, in this sense, and holiness, are synony- 
mous terms. We must therefore say, We are 
saved by faith. Faith is the sole condition of 
this salvation. For without faith we cannot be 
thus saved. But whosever believeth is saved al- 
ready. 

" Without faith we cannot be thus saved. For 
we cannot rightly serve God, unless we love him. 
And we cannot love him unless we know him ; 
neither can we know God, unless by faith. 



430 



METHODIST 



Therefore, salvation by faith is only, in other 
words, the love of God by the knowledge of 
God : or, the recovery of the image of God, 
by a l rue spiritual acquaintance with him. 

" Faith, in general, is a divine, supernatural 
sXsJxos- (evidence or conviction) of things not 
seen, not discoverable by our bodily senses^ as 
being either past, future, or spiritual. Justifying 
faith implies not only a divine eXsixpr. That 
God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto 
himself, but a sure trust and confidence, that 
Christ died for my sins, that he loved me, and 
gave himself for me. And the moment a peni- 
tent sinner believes this, God pardons and ab- 
solves him. 

" And as soon as this pardon or justification 
is witnessed to him by the Holy Ghost, he \% 
saved. He loves God and all mankind. He has 
the mind that was in Christ, and power to walk 
as he also walked. From that time (unless he 
make shipwreck of the faith) salvation gradually 
increases in his soul. For so is the kingdom of 
God, as if a man should cast seed into the 
ground — and it springeth up, first the blade, 
then the ear, after that the full corn in the 
ear. 

" The first sowing of this seed, I cannot coi>*< 
ceive to be other than instantaneous; whether \ 
consider experience, Or the word of God, or the 
very nature of the thing. However, I contend 
not for a circumstance, but the substance ; if 



DOCTRINES. 43 1 

you can attain it another way, do. Only see 
that you do attain it; for if you fall short, you 
perish everlastingly. 

"This beginning of that vast inward change, 
is usually termed The new birth. Baptism i-s 
the outward sign of this inward grace, which is 
supposed by our church to be given with and 
through that sign to all infants, and to those of 
riper years, if they repent and believe the gospel. 
But how extremely idle are the common dis- 
putes on this head 1 I tell a sinner, i You must 
be born again.' ' No, say you, he was born 
again in baptism. Therefore he cannot be born 
again now/ Alas ! what trifling is this ! What 
if he was then a child of God ? He is now ma- 
nifestly a child of the devil. For the works of 
his father he doth. Therefore do not play upon 
words. He must go through an entire change 
of heart. In one not yet baptized, you your- 
self would call that change, the new birth. In 
him, call it what you will ; but remember, mean- 
time, that if either he or you die without it, 
your baptism will be so far from profiting you, 
that it will greatly increase your damnation. 

" The author of faith and salvation is God 
alone. It is he that works in us both to will 
and to do. He is the sole giver of every good 
gift, and the sole author of every good work. 
There is no more of power than of merit in man ; 
but as all merit is in the Son of God. in what he 



432 METHODIST 

has done and suffered for us, so all power is in 
the Spirit of God. And therefore every man, in 
order to believe unto salvation, must receive the 
Holy Ghost. This is essentially necessary to 
every Christian, not in order to his working 
miracles, but in order to faith, peace, joy, and 
love, the ordinary fruits of the Spirit. 

" Although no man on earth can explain the 
particular manner wherein the Spirit of God 
works on the soul, yet whosoever has these fruits 
cannot but know and feel that God has wrought 
them in his heart. 

" Sometimes he acts more particularly on the 
understanding, opening or enlightening it, (as 
the scripture speaks) and revealing, unveiling, 
discovering to us the deep tilings of God. 

" Sometimes he acts on the wills and affec- 
tions of men; withdrawing them from evil, in- 
clining them to good, inspiring (breathing, as 
it were) good thoughts into them : so it has fre- 
quently been expressed, by an easy, natural me- 
taphor, strictly analogous to nVI, vvsuia*, spiritus, 
and the words used in most modern tongues 
also, to denote the third person in the ever- 
blessed Trinity. But' bo^gtaer it be expressed, 
it is certain, all true faith, and the whole work 
of salvation, every good thought, word and 
work, is altogether by the operation of the 
Spirit of God, 



DOCTRINES. 433 

In order to be clearly and fully satisfied, what 
the doctrine of the church of England is (as it 
stands opposite to the doctrine of the Antino* 
mians, on the one hand, and to that of justifi- 
cation by works on the other) I will simply set 
down what occurs on this head, either in her 
Liturgy, Articles or Homilies. 

" Spare thou them, O God, which confess 
their faults : Restore thou them that are peni- 
tent, according to thy promises declared unto 
mankind in Christ Jesus, our Lord." 

" He pardoneth and absolveth all them that 
.truly repent and unfeigned ly believe his holy 
gospel." 

" Almighty God, who dost forgive the sins 
of them that are penitent, create and make in 
us new and contrite hearts ; that we, worthily 
lamenting our sins and acknowledging our 
wretchedness, may obtain of thee perfect remis- 
sion and forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our 
Lord." Collect for Ash-Wednesday. 

" Almighty God hath promised forgiveness of 
sins to all them that with hearty repentance and 
true faith turn unto him." Communion Office. 

" Our Lord Jesus Christ hath left power to 
absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe 
in him." Visitation of the Sick. 

11 Give him unfeigned repentance and stedfast 
faith, that his sins may be blotted out." Ibid. 

F F 



434 



METHODIST 



" He is a merciful receiver of all true, peni- 
tent sinners, and is ready to pardon us, if we 
come unto him with faithful repentance." Com- 
minution Office. 

Infants indeed our church supposes to he jus* 
tified in baptism, although they cannot then 
either believe or repent. But she expressly re- 
quires both repentance and faith, in those who 
come to be baptized when they are of riper 
years. 

As earnestly therefore as our church incul- 
cates justification by faith alone, she neverthe- 
less supposes repentance to be previous to faith, 
and fruits meet for repentance : Yea, and uni- 
versal holiness to be previous to final justifica- 
tion, as evidently appears from the following 
words : 

" Let us beseech him, that the rest of our 
life may be pure and holy, so that at the last we 
may come to his eternal joy." Absolution. 

" May we seriously apply our hearts to that 
holy and heavenly wisdom here, which may in 
the end bring us to life everlasting." Visitation 
of the Sick. 

" Raise us from the death of sin unto the life 
of righteousness, that at the last day we may 
be found acceptable in thy sight." Burial Office. 

" If we from henceforth walk in his ways, 
seeking always his glory, Christ will set us oil 
his right band." Commination Office, 



DOCTRINES. 4'#5 

We come next to^the articles of our church : 
The former part of the ninth runs thus: 

Of Original or Birth- Sin. 

" Original sin, is the fault and corruption of 
fhe nature of every man, whereby man is very 
far gone from original righteousness, and is of 
his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh 
lusteth always contrary to the spirit : And there- 
fore in every person born into this world, it de- 
served God's wrath and damnation." 

Art. X.—Of Free-Will 

" The condition of man after the fall of Adam 
is such, that he cannot turn and prepare him- 
self by his own natural strength and good works 
.to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we 
have no power to do good works, pleasant and 
acceptable to God, without the grace of God 
by Christ preventing us, that we may have a 
good will, and working with us when we have 
that good will." 

Art. XL— Of the Justification of Man. 

" We are accounted righteous before God, 
only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Je- 
$us Christ, by faith, and not for our own works 
f f 2 



435 



METHODIST 



or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified 
by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, 
and very full of comfort, as more largely is ex- 
pressed in the homily of justification." 

I believe this article relates to the meritorious 
cause of justification, rather than to the condi- 
tion of it. On this therefore I do not build 
any thing concerning it, but on those that 
follow. 

Art. XII. — Of Good Works. 

u Albeit that good works which are the fruits 
of faith and follow after justification, cannot 
put away our sins — yet are they pleasing and 
acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out 
necessarily of a true and lively faith : Insomuch 
that by them a lively faith may be as evidently 
known, as a tree may be known by the fruit." 

We are taught here, 1. That good works in 
general, follow after justification. % That they 
spring out of a true and lively faith, that faith 
whereby we are justified : 5. That true, justify- 
ing faith may be as evidently known by them, 
as a tree discerned by the fruit. 

Does it not follow, That the supposing any 
good work to go before justification, is full as 
absurd as the supposing an apple or any other 
fruit to grow before the tree ? 

But let us hear the church, speaking yet 
more plainly. 



DOCTRINES. 437 

Art. XIII. — Of Works done before Justification. 

" Works done before the grace of Christ and 
the inspiration of his spirit, (L e. before justi- 
fication, as the title expresses it) are not pleasant 
to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith 
in Jesus Christ — Yea rather, for that they are 
not done as God hath willed and commanded 
them to be done, we doubt not they have the 
nature of sin." 

Now, if all works done before justification^ 
have the nature of sin, (both because they spring 
not of faith in Christ, and because they are not 
done as God hath willed and commanded them 
to be done) what becomes of sanctification 
previous to justification ? It is utterly excluded : 
Seeing whatever is previous to justification, is 
not good or holy, but evil and sinful. 

Although therefore our church does frequently 
assert, That we ought to repent and bring forth 
fruits meet for repentance, if ever we would at- 
tain to that faith, whereby alone we are justifi- 
ed : Yet she never asserts (and here the hinge 
of the question turns) That these are ^ood 
works, so long as they are previous to justifica- 
tion. Nay she expressly asserts the direct con- 
trary, viz. 'That they have all the nature of sin/ 
Mr. Wesley next proceeds to shew what oc* 
curs in the Homilies on these subjects. 



438 METHODIST 

" These things must go together in our justi- 
fication; upon God's part, his great mercy and 
grace ; upon Christ's part, the satisfaction of 
God's justice ; and upon our part, true and lively 
faith in the merits of Jesus Christ," Homily on 
•Salvation, Tart I. 

" So that the grace of God doth not shut out 
the justice (or righteousness) of God in our jus- 
tification ■; but only shutteth out the righteous- 
ness of man — as to deserving our justification." 

" And therefore St. Paul declareth nothing on 
the behalf of man, concerning his justification, 
but only a true faith." 

" And yet that faith doth not shut out repent- 
ance, hope, love, to be joined with faith (that 
is, afterwards ; see below) in every man that is 
justified-— Neither doth faith shut out the righte- 
ousness of our good works, necessarily to be 
done afterwards. But it excluded them so, that 
Ave may not do them to this intent, to be made 
just (or, to be justified ) by doing them.'' 

-" That we are justified by faith alone, is 
spoken, to take away clearly all merit of our 
works, and wholly to ascribe the merit and de- 
serving of our justification unto Christ onlv." 
Ibid. Part II. 

■" The true meaning of this saying, We he 
justified by faith only, is this, We be justified 
by the merits of Christ only, and not of our 
own works." Ibid. Part III. 



DOCTRINES. 439 

" Thus far touching: the meritorious cause of 
our justification : referred to me in the 11th ar- 
ticle. The 12th and 13th are a summary of 
what now follows, with regard to the condition 
of it. 

" Of (justifying) true faith, three things are 
specially to be noted, 1. That it bringeth forth 
good works. 2. That without it can no good 
work be done. 3. What good works it doth 
bring forth." Sermon on Faith, Part I. 

" Without faith can no good work be done, 
accepted and pleasant unto God. For as a 
branch cannot bear fruit of itself, saith our Sa- 
viour Christ, except it abide in the vine, so 
cannot you, except you abide in me. Faith 
giveth life to the soul; and they be as much 
dead to God that lack faith, as they be to the 
world, whose bodies lack souls. Without faith 
all that is done of us, is r but dead before God. 
Even as a picture is but a dead representation of 
the thing itself, so be the works of all unfaith- 
ful (unbelieving) persons before God. They be 
but shadows of lively and good things, and not 
good things indeed. For true faith doth give 
life to the works, and without faith no work is 
good before God." Ibid. Pari 111. 

" We must set no good works before faith, 
nor think that before faith a man may do any 
good works. For such works are as the course 



440 METHODIST 

of an horse that runneth out of the way, which 
taketh great labour, but to no purpose." Ibid. 

"Without faith we have no virtues, but only 
the shadows of them. All the life of them that 
lack the true faith is sin." Ibid. 

" As men first have life, and after be nourish- 
ed, so must our faith go before, and after be 
nourished with good works. And life may be 
without nourishment, but nourishment cannot 
be without life." Homily of Works annexed ta 
Faith, Pt. I. 

" I can shew a man, that by faith without 
works lived and came to heaven. But without 
faith never man had life. The thief on the 
cross only believed and the most merciful God 
justified him. Truth it is, if he had lived and 
not regarded faith and the works thereof, he 
should have lost his salvation again. But this I 
say, faith by itself saved him. But works by 
themselves never justified any man." 

" Good works go not before, in him which 
shall afterwards be justified. But good works 
do follow after, when a man js first justified. ? ' 
Homily on Fasting, Part I. 

From the whole tenor then of her liturgy, 
articles and homilies, the doctrine of the church 
of England appears to be this : 

1. That no good work properly so called, can 
go before justification. 

2. That no degree of true sanctification can 
be previous to it 



DOCTRINES, 441 

3. That as the meritorious cause of justiBca- 
tion is, The life and death of Christ ; so the con- 
dition of it, is faith. Faith alone ; and 

4. That both inward and outward holiness, 
are consequent on this faith, and are the ordi- 
nary stated condition of final justification. 

And what more can those desire, who have 
hitherto opposed justification by faith alone, 
merely upon a principle of conscience; because 
they were zealous for holiness and good work* ? 
Do I not effectually secure these from contempt, 
at the same time that I defend the doctrine of 
the church ? I not only allow, but vehemently 
contend, That none shall ever enter into glory, 
who is not holy on earth, as well in heart, as in 
all manner of conversation. I cry aloud, Let 
all that have believed, be careful to maintain 
good works : And, Let every one that nameth the 
name of Christ, depart from all iniquity. I ex- 
hort even those who are conscious they do not 
believe, Cease to do evil, learn to do well: The 
kingdom of heaven is at hand ; therefore re- 
pent, and bring forth fruits meet for repent- 
ance. 

Many of those who are perhaps zealous of 
good works, think I have allowed too much. — 
Nay, my brethren, but how can we help allow- 
ing it, if we allow the Scriptures to be from God ? 
For is it not written, and do not yourselves be- 



442 METHODIST 

lieve, Without holiness no man shall see the 
Lord ? And how then, without fighting about 
words, can we deny, That holiness is a condi- 
tion of final acceptance ? And, as to the first 
acceptance for pardon, does not all experience 
as well as Scripture prove, That no man ever yet 
truly believed the Gospel, who did not first re- 
pent ? That none was ever yet truly convinced 
of righteousness, who was not first convinced 
of sin ? Repentance therefore in this sense, we 
cannot deny to be necessarily previous to faith. 
Is it not equally undeniable, That the running 
hack into known, wilful sin, (suppose it were 
drunkenness or uncleanness) stifles that repent- 
ance or conviction ? And can that repentance 
come to any good issue in his soul, who resolves 
not to forgive his brother? Or who obstinately 
refrains from what God convinces him is 
right, whether it be prayer or hearing his 
word ? 

And yet I allow this, That although both re- 
pentance and the fruits thereof are in some sense 
necessary before justification, yet neither the 
one nor the other is necessary in the same sense 
or in the same degree with faith. Not in the 
same degree. For in whatever moment a man 
believes (in a Christian sense of the word) he is 
justified, his sins are blotted out, his faith is 
counted to him for righteousness. But it is not 



DOCTRJXES. 443 

so, at whatever moment be repents, or brings 
forth any or all the fruits of repentance. Faith 
alone therefore justifies ; which repentance 
alone does not ; much less any outward work. 
And consequently, none of these are neces- 
sary to justification, in the same degree with 
faith. 

Nor in the same sense. For none of these 
has so direct, immediate a relation to justifica- 
tion as faith. This is proximately necessary 
thereto; repentance, remotely, as it is neces- 
sary to the increase or continuance of faith. 
And even in this sense, these are only necessary, 
on supposition — if there be time and opportu- 
nity for them : For in many instances there is 
not : But God cuts short his work, and faith 
prevents the fruits of repentance. So that the 
general proposition is not overthrown, but 
clearly established by these concessions ; and 
we conclude still, both on the authoiity of 
Scripture and the Church, That faith alone is 
the proximate condition of justification." 

You will observe, Madam, that in drawing 
up the foregoing formulary of the Methodist 
doctrines, Mr. Wesley's chief aim has been to 
prove, that the religious opinions of the Metho- 
dists are the same as those taught in the articles 
and homilies of the church of England. It is 
not my business to enter into the questions which 



444 METHODIST 

have been agitated among the Arminian or Wes- 
leyan, and the Calvinistic, or . Whitefieldian 
Methodists, respecting the true meaning of these 
articles. 

There are some leading points in both their 
systems, which tend to bind them together in 
the same general interests. The doctrines of the 
Trinity, satisfaction to Divine Justice for the 
sins of men, by the sufferings of Christ, original 
or birth sin, sensible, and, generally speaking, 
instantaneous conversion, the necessity of su- 
pernatural influences to good works, justifica- 
tion by faith only, and the eternity of hell tor- 
ments are points in which these two branches of 
Methodists agree. There are other sects of Me- 
thodists, agreeing with one or other of these 
in most points ; but differing either as to bap- 
tism or the nature and order of church govern- 
ment. 

The chief points in which the Wesley an and 
Whitefieldian Methodists differ, are those re- 
specting perfection, irresistible grace, the per- 
severance of the saints, imputed righteousness, 
and election and reprobation. The former be- 
lieve that Christians may, nay, ought to attain 
a state of perfection before death ; and that 
this may be attained in a moment, just as they 
received the forgiveness of their sins. This work 
they chiefly assign to the third person in the 



DOCTRINES. 445 

Trinity, who is said to commence his cleansing 
operations in the soul, the same moment in 
which he speaks peace to the soul by the absolu- 
tion of the sinner from all his past sins ; and 
that he, the Holy Ghost, silently and gradually, 
sometimes almost imperceptibly; but at other 
times, as it were irresistibly, proceeds to work 
upon the remains of inbred sin, till in a mo- 
ment the old man with his deeds is wholly put 
off, the soul is purged from every stain, and the 
saint stands up, complete in the whole armour 
of God, not having spot or wrinkle or any such 
thing ! This state of perfection needs never be 
lost ; and, indeed, it seems morally impossible 
it ever should, because nothing but sin, we may 
suppose, could rob the believer of so precious 
a gift, and he being freed from sin ; the world 
the flesh and the devil having no more domi- 
nion over him ; having in fact lost " the power 
of sinning," it does not appear how any perfect 
Christian can ever become imperfect or any way 
in the least sinful. It is, however, a lament- 
able truth, that the perfect Methodist is as liable 
to sin as the imperfetone ; which abundance of 
facts have long proved. Nor could I ever per- 
ceive any moral difference in these two charac- 
ters, though I have had the honour of being 
intimately acquainted with many of the perfec- 
tionists. In fact, except in the, bare profession 



44 () JUETHODIST 

of the parties, a state of mere justification, and 
the highest attainments of sanctification are no 
wise morally different, at least to an ordinary 
beholder. I knew a good woman, who de- 
clared tome, that she had never said, thought, 
or acted any thing contrary to the pure will of 
God for the space of two- and- twenty years ; 
except once, when she, through the violence 
of sudden temptation, just tasted a little wine, 
which she had been desired to purchase for a 
sick neighbour ! And I know a man, who is 
so constantly filled with the love of God, and 
has such constant communion with the Father 
and the Son, through the Spirit, that the bare 
mention of the Holy Ghost will bring tears of 
joy into his eyes, check the powers of utter- 
ance, and sometimes throw him on the ground 
in the most devout ecstasies ! 

The Calvinistic Methodists do not believe in 
the doctrine of perfection; but as they admit 
that of divine influence, they also are sometimes 
lost in devout and holy raptures. 

The doctrines of irresistible grace and of the 
final perseverance of the saints are not held by 
the Wesleyans ; but are strenuously contended 
for by the Calvinists. 

The Wesleyans reject the Calvinistic doctrine 
of imputed righteousness, and admit that of 
imputed faith, in lieu of it, 



DOCTRINES. 44/ 

Bat the grand point of difference is that re- 
specting predestination ; which the Wesleyan 
Methodists reject, but which the Whitefieldians 
admit, and contend for on all occasions. 



I am, &a 



448 



LETTER XLL 



Of Bibliomancy- — Scripture- Cards- — Womm- 
Preaching — Street and Field Singing, 



DEAR MADAM, 

Having detailed the rise, progress, and doc- 
trines of the Wesleyan Methodists, I must 
now proceed to give you some information con- 
cerning certain religious practices which obtain 
among this people, but which are not publicly 
acknowledged as forming any part of the eco- 
nomy of Methodism. These are Bibliomancy, 
or the practice of determining the present or fu- 
ture state of the soul by accidental opening upon 
texts of Scripture — religious card playing — fe- 
male preaching and exhorting — and street and 
field singing. 

In the Encyclopaedia Perthensis, it is ob- 
served, " the Methodists have long practised 
Bibliomancy, with regard to the future state of 
I 



OF BIBLI0MANCY. 449 

their souls ; but that some of their members 
having been driven to despair, by texts occur- 
ring to them, that threatened the most awful 
judgments, their late pastor, Mr. Wesley, to 
prevent such fatal consequences from recurring, 
improved upon the system of sacred lottery, by 
printing several packs of cards with a variety 
of texts, containing nothing but the most com- 
fortable promises : and thus his disciples drevv 
with courage and comfort, in a lottery where 
there were various prizes, great and small, but 
no blanks," This statement is not, I believe, ex- 
actly correct. 

The manner in which Bibliomancy is prac- 
tised among the Methodists is as follows : At a 
religious gossiping, when the tea-board is re- 
moved, the subjects of pious scandal are nearly 
exhausted, and religious chit-chat grows lan- 
guid, it is not unusual after a word of prayer, 
to introduce the Bible, as a kind of auxiliary, 
to the fading energy of evangelical conversa- 
tion, as well as to secure obedience to the sa- 
cred command, to have all their words " mixt 
with grace." The company being placed in 
proper order, one of them takes the Bible, and 
asks the next person near her, (for this prac- 
tice is mostly prevalent among the sisterhood) 
which text she will iix upon as the object of 
her present choice. It is answered by naming 
some particular number, and applying it to the 

Q G 



450 ANECDOTE. 

corresponding text on either the right or left 
page of the book, whichever the party may think 
proper to adopt. The Bible is then opened, with 
great solemnity, and every heart is engaged for 
the success of the enterprise. The all-important 
verse is then read aloud,, which is immediately 
followed by such ejaculations of prayer or praise 
as the text chosen may happen to suggest ! This 
ceremony is performed for the benefit of every in- 
dividual in succession, who chooses to risk her 
peace of mind on the event of so solemn a lottery. 
This practice is also very frequently resorted to 
in private; when a person is perplexed concerning 
the state of his mind, or before some important 
undertaking. I remember, on the day of my 
conversion, which was the 18th of June, 179^, 
being extremely distressed on a religious ac- 
count, and living a few miles distant from the 
place where a class- meeting w r as held, I was in- 
duced to run, as if life and salvation depended 
thereon, through much rain, to the meeting, 
all in my undress, because I had opened upon 
that passage where our Lord tells his disciples, 
that they knew the truth, and that the truth 
should make them free. Had the meeting been 
at five times the distance ; and had my good 
mother, who opposed, or wished to moderate, 
my youthful zeal, been much more averse to 
my going than she was, nothing could have, 
stopt me, so fully was I persuaded, that that very 



ANECDOTE. 45l 

night, and at that very meeting, I should be 
set free from the pains of the new-birth, and 
be born again of the spirit of truth ! I could 
enumerate several instances of the like nature, 
yea, where the most important concerns have de- 
pended on the accidental choice of a passage of 
scripture, 

The practice of choosing texts naturally in- 
troduced that of choosing stanzas out of the 
hymn-book for the same pious purposes. Mr, 
C* Wesley's scripture hymns are often used on 
those occasions. It is known among some of 
the Methodists, that a preacher, now living, 
was indebted to the choice of a verse for a 
very amiable and rich wife. The case was this : 
Mr. R. a travelling preacher, having recently 
lost his wife, was one day employed with a lady 
or two, in choosing verses. " And pray, sister 
R.," said he, " what verse do you make choice 
of?" A certain number was given, and the text 
proved to be "Where thou lodgest there will 1 
lodge, &c. !" The hint was good, and a visit 
to the shrine of Flymen was the happy conse- 
quence ! It would be well if all the prizes in 
these sacred lotteries were equally valuable. 
The lady, who was a most excellent wife* and a 
sincere Christian, died a few years ago ; but her 
worthy survivor is new too old to venture his 
fortune again in so precarious a manner. 

Q Gt'i 



^5% SCRIPTURE CARDS. 

The practice of religious card playing is now 
seldom used among the Methodists; and I be- 
lieve the scripture cards are out of print ; a few- 
copies are, nevertheless, still extant ; and are 
sometimes resorted to in a manner similar to 
that of text and stanza choosing. 

These cards are very small ones, with a text 
of scripture printed on one side, and the same, 
in a poetical paraphrase, on the other. I have 
seen several packs of these "religious trifles," 
and have often witnessed their use and effects 
with no small degree of pain. 

Mr. Adam Clarke, in his. Letter to a Methodist 
Preacher, from which I made some extracts in 
a former letter, gives his brethren the following 
excellent advice. " Wherever you go," says he, 
Ci discountenance that disgraceful custom (pro- 
perly enough termed) Bibliomancy; »". e> divi- 
nation by the Bible. I need scarcely observe, 
that this consists in what is called dipping into 
the Bible, taking passages of scripture at ha- 
zard, and drawing indications thence concern- 
ing the present and future state of the soul. 
This is a scandal to Christianity. So also are 
those religious trifles, impiously and ominously 
called scripture cards. Thank God ! these have 
never 'been very common among us ; and are 
certainly not of Methodist growth. In an evil 
hour they were first introduced ; and have since 
2 



scripture cards. 453 

been criminally tolerated. I have found them 
the constant companions of religious gossips ; 
and have seen them drawn for the purpose of 
shewing the success of journies, enterprises, 
&c. Very great mischief they have done to 
my own knowledge; and sensible persons have 
through them been led to despise the whole of 
that system from which they never sprung, on 
which they have never been engrafted, and in 
which they have never been more than barely- 
tolerated. Giving the authors of them all the 
credit we can for the goodness of their inten- 
tion, we cannot help saying of their produc- 
tions, (and this is giving them the very best 
character they deserve) that they are the dri- 
vellings of religious nonage, or of piety in super- 
annuation. I do not find, that Mr. Wesley 
ever made, used, or approved, of these things ; 
but as they were tolerated in his time, they have 
been attributed to himself." 

He then proceeds to observe, concerning 
what the editors of the Encyclopaedia Perthen- 
sis have said about the practice of Bibliomancy 
and the scripture cards, te I am sorry that there 
should have ever been the least shadow of ground 
for the above calumny : but let these gentlemen 
know, and let all men by these presents know, 
that the great body of Methodists never used 
them ! that the preachers in general highly dis- 
approve of them ; and that what is said about 



454 WOMEN- PREACHING. 

Mr. Wesley's fabricating them, &c. is, to use 
a lilliputian expression, the thing that is not. I 
am glad to find that they are daily dying among 
the few that did use them : I hope soon to hear 
that they are all finally buried, and earnestly 
pray that they may never have a resurrection, 
except to shame and everlasting contempt" 

This is very judicious counsel ; and the prayer 
with which it concludes is wise and good: I 
wish all the Methodists may attend to it. 

It has been thought by some, that the Method- 
ists allow female preaching : this is not the 
case, if we must consider that practice as al- 
lowable by any express rule of Conference. — 
The practice has nevertheless been tolerated, 
and in some cases sanctioned even by Mr. Wes- 
ley himself, as the following letter, addressed 
to Miss Bosarsquet, the present Mrs. Fletcher, 
of Madeley, will fully shew: — = 

es Londonderry, June 1 3, 1771- 

" My dear Sister, 

u I think the strength of the cause rests there, 
in your having an extraordinary call: So I am 
persuaded has every one of our lay-preachers : 
otherwise, I could not countenance their preach- 
ing at all. It is plain to me that the whole work 
of God termed Methodism, is an extraordinary 



WOMEN-PREACHING. 4^5 

dispensation of his providence. Therefore I do 
not wonder if several things occur therein which 
do not fall under ordinary rules of discipline. 
St. Paul's ordinary rule was, ■ I do not permit 
a woman to speak in the congregation ;' yet in 
extraordinary cases, he made a few exceptions, 
at Corinth in particular. 

«1 am, 

" My dear Sister, 

" Your affectionate brother, 

" John Wesley." 

What practice may not be allowed under 
the notion of having* " an extraordinary 
Call ?" 

At the Dublin conference, in the year 1802, a 
debate took place on the propriety of women 
preaching and exhorting in public congrega- 
tions ; which ended by making the following 
rule: " It is the judgment of the conference, 
that it is contrary both to scripture and pru- 
dence, that women should preach, or should ex- 
hort in public ; and we direct the superintend- 
ants to refuse a society-ticket to any woman in 
the Methodist connexion, who preaches or who 
exhorts in any public congregation, unless she 
entirely ceases from so doing." I am informed 
that this motion was carried by a very small ma- 
jority. In the English conrerence, no such 
1 



456 MARY BARRET. 

rule has yet been marie. I have often heard 
Miss Mary Barret, now, if 1 mistake not, Mrs. 
Taft, preach, both in the pulpit and the open 
air, to immense crowds of hearers. If one 
might judge of Miss Barret's call by the suc- 
cess of her labours, it was very extraordinary in- 
deed ! She made numerous proselytes ; but, as I 
remember, in Macclesfield and in Manchester, 
several of them soon began to backslide. She had 
a wonderful knack at inflaming the passions; 
but was extraordinarily defective in the art of in- 
forming the judgment. I took the substance of 
several of her sermons in short-hand ; and they 
are very curious specimens of pulpit-eloquence, 
I assure you. 

Though the practice of women preaching is 
not very common, particularly in the present 
da} 7 , yet that of female exhortation is frequent 
enough ; and there are great numbers of wo- 
men regularly appointed to be leaders of classes. 
The women pray in public as frequently as the 
men, and no censure is attached to the practice. 
Indeed the sisterhood are generally remarkably 
gifted in prayer. The warmth of feeling, the 
quickness of wit, and the extraordinary volubi- 
lity of tongue, with which many ladies are pos- 
sessed, render them peculiarly fitted for the pub- 
lic exercises of prayer and praise at a Methodist 
meeting. For my own part, I see no solid reason 



STREET AND FIELD SINGING. 457 

why our fair country women should not be allow- 
ed to exercise their gifts as well as the men. 

Why boast, O arrogant, imperious man, 

Perfections so exclusive ! Are thy powers 

fearer approaching to the Deity ? Canst thou solve 

Questions which high infinity propounds,. 

Soar nobler flights, or dare immortal deeds, 

Unknown to woman, if she greatly dare 

To use the powers assign'd her ? Active strength^ 

The boast of animals, is clearly thine : 

By this upheld, thou think'st the lesson rare 

That female virtue teaches, poor the height 

Which female wit obtains. The theme unfolds 

Its ample maze, for Montngue befriends 

The puzzl'd thought, and blazing in the eye 

Of bolden'd opposition, straight presents 

The soul's best energies, her keenest powers, 

Clear, vigorous, and enlightened. 

Mrs. Ann Yearsley. 

Of the practice of street and field singing I 
shall say but little ; because it is not very com- 
mon among the Methodists, except at fune- 
rals. It is sometimes the custom, when a party 
of young people have been at a country love- 
feast, to return in a body, with some one at their 
head, giving out lines of several hymns, which 
they all sing, to the wonder of passing strangers, 
and to the sorrow of the sober and modest part 
of their own communitv. I have often heard 



458 STREET SINGING. 

them pass my window, at very late hours, sub- 
limely chanting — 

Ye virgin souls arise, 

With all the dead awake ! 
Unto salvation wise, 

Oil in your vessels take : , 

Upstarting at the midnight cry, 
Behold the heavenly Bridegroom nigh ! 



I am, &e. 



459 



LETTER XLIL 



Controversies with the Calvinists, <5fc- — Circular 
Letter. 



DEAR MADAM, 

In a work of this nature, it would seem impro- 
per not to notice some or me co. oyersies in 
which Mr. Wesley and his friends w. ) long 
engaged. These were of various kint^ and 
with opponents of various sentiments and abili- 
ties. Indeed there is hardly any topic of theo- 
logical controversy, in which, at one time or 
other, Mr. Wesley was not engaged. A nans, 
Calvinisrs, Antinomians, Papists, Swedenbor- 
gians, Moravians, and Moralists, all have felt 
the stroke of his pen; while under his auspices 
the odium theologicum has increased and multi- 
plied with astonishing rapidity. Hardly yet is 
the wide champaign cleared of the dead and the 



460 CONTROVERSIES. 

dying, who have fallen in those polemic battles. 
Their wounds yet smoke: though the fight 
is nearly over, the cries of the victorious, and 
the groans of the vanquished, are still heard in 
the camp. 

It must be acknowledged, that Mr. John Wes- 
ley was the first that drew the ungracious 
sword of controversy between the Calvinists 
and himself; and it must also be owned that, 
hy the aid of his commander in chief, Mr. 
Fletcher, he has come off complete conqueror. 

Passing by the many flying skirmishes which 
took place between these angry religionists, I 
will give you some account of the war when the 
first pitched battle was agreed upon. This was 
about the year 1771, and was occasioned by 
certain strong expressions, and anti-calvinistic 
sentiments, contained in the minutes of the con- 
ference which was held the year before at Bris- 
tol. 

The following extract will exhibit the most 
objectionable passages — 

" We said in 1 744, ■ We have leaned too much 
towards Calvinism. - Wherein ? 

" ]. With regard to man's faithfulness. Our 
Lord himself taught us to use the expression, 
and therefore we ought never to be ashamed of 
it. We ought steadily to assert upon his autho- 
rity, that if a man is not faithful in the un- 



CONTROVERSIES. 46l 

righteous mammon, God will not give him the 
true riches. 

" 2. With regard to working for life, which 
our Lord expressly commands us to do, ' Labour, 
spy^zcQs, that is, work for the meat that endureth 
to everlasting life.' And in fact, every believer, 
till he comes to glory, works for, as well as from, 
life. 

" 3. We have received it as a maxim, That a 
man is to do nothing in order to justification. 
Nothing can be more false. Whosoever desires 
to find favour with God, should cease from evil, 
and learn to do well. So God himself teaches 
by the prophet Isaiah. Whosoever repents, 
should do works meet for repentance. And if 
this is not in order to find favour, what does he 
do them for? 1 ' 

" As to merit itself, of which we have been so 
dreadfully afraid : we are rewarded according 
to our works, yea, because of our works. How 
does this differ from, For the sake of our 
works ? And how differs this from secundum 
merita operum ? Which is no more than, as 
our works deserve. Let him that can, split the 
hair." 

To the above minutes the following remon- 
strances against Calvinism have since been 
added, which tend still more to widen the 
breach. 



462' CONTROVERSIES. 



Against Antinomianism. 

" Q. What is most destructive of Method-* 
ism, or the doctrine of inward holiness ? 

" A. Calvinism, that is, the doctrine of un-* 
conditional predestination. All the devices of 
Satan, have done far less towards stopping this 
work of God, than that single doctrine. It 
strikes at the root of salvation from sin, previous 
to glory ; it puts the matter quite upon another 
footing. This doctrine seems to magnify Christ ; 
although in reality it supposes him to have died 
in vain. For the absolutely elect, must have 
been saved without him, and the non-elect can- 
not be saved by him. It is highly pleasing to 
flesh and blood; unconditional perseverance in 
particular. 

" Let all our preachers carefully read over Mr, 
Wesley's and Mr. Fletcher's tracts. 

" Let them frequently and explicitly preach 
the whole truth, though not in a controversial 
way. Let them take care to do it in love and 
gentleness. 

" Lay hold upon any that you find newly con- 
vinced of the truth, and warn them against pre- 
destination. Answer all their objections as oc- 
casion offers, both in public and in private. 
But do this with all possible sweetness both of 



CIRCULAR LETTER. 463 

look and accent. Frequently warn our people 
against hearing that doctrine. And pray much, 
that the Lord may prevent the evil." 

The minutes I first quoted produced the fol- 
lowing circular printed letter from Lady Hunt- 
ingdon's chaplain, which was addressed to all 
gospel ministers, both episcopal and dissenting, 
i. e, to those who hold the doctrines of Calvin— 

« Sir, 
u Whereas Mr. Wesley's conference is to be 
held at Bristol, on Tuesday the 6th August 
next, it is proposed by Lady Huntingdon, and 
many other Christian friends (real Protestants) 
to have a meeting at Bristol, at the same time, 
of such principal persons, both clergy and laity, 
who disapprove of the underwritten minutes; 
and as the same are thought injurious to the very 
fundamental principles of Christianity, it is fur - 
ther proposed, that they go in a body to the 
said conference, and insist upon a formal recant- 
ation of the said minutes ; and in case of a re- 
fusal, that they sign and publish their protest 
against them. Your presence, Sir, on this oc- 
casion, is particularly requested : but if it should 
not suit your convenience to be there, it is de- 
sired that you will transmit your sentiments on 
the subject to such person as you think proper 
to produce them. It is submitted to you, whe- 
ther it would not be right; in the opposition to 



464 CONTROVERSIES. 

be made to such a dreadful heresy, to recom* 
mend it to as many of your Christian friends, as 
well of the dissenters, as of the established 
church, as you can prevail on to be there, the 
cause being of so public a nature. I am, 
" Sir, 

" Your obedient servant, 
" Walter Shirley." 

ft P. S. Your answer is desired, directed to the 
Countess of Huntingdon, or the Rev. Mr. Shir- 
ley, or John Lloyd, Esq. in Bath; or Mr. James 
Ireland, merchant, Bristol ; or to Thomas 
Powis, Esq. at Berwick, near Shrewsbury ; or 
to Richard Hill, Esq. at Hawkstone, near Whit- 
church, Shropshire. Lodgings will be provided* 
Enquire at Mr. Ireland's, Bristol." 

It was now that Mr. Fletcher appeared in de* 
fence of his brethren the Methodists. What he 
wrote upon that subject, is contained in seven 
volumes duodecimo. He certainly put to flight 
the antagonists, for which their survivors will 
never, I believe, cordially forgive him It is a 
fact, that a certain Calvinist, being asked if he 
had read The Checks, replied, " No ; nor do I 
intend to read them ; for were I to do so, I 
should turn Arminian ; a thing I am fully deter- 
mined never to do while I live l" 






CONTROVERSIES. 465 

Of the other controversies in which the Wes- 
leyans have been engaged, it is not necessary to 
dilate. They bear a very small proportion of 
magnitude or importance to the one I have just 
been mentioning. Yet it would be deemed an 
unpardonable omission to pass unobserved 
the famous circular letter which Mr. Wesley 
addressed to the Gospel Ministers of the church 
of England; in which he proposed to them a 
plan of union and co-operation with himself, in 
the great work of making proselytes to Me- 
thodism. 

The substance of this circular letter was, that 
all those ministers of the church of England, 
who held the doctrines of original sin, justifica- 
tion by faith, and holiness of heart and life, 
should cordially unite in one common cause to 
convert the world. They were to do this, by 
removing all hindrances from themselves, by 
not judging, hating, despising, slandering* nor 
devouring, each other. They should, on the 
contrary, think, speak, and act towards each 
other as brethren. Of between thirty and forty 
of these ministers to whom the letter was ad- 
dressed, only three of them deigned to give him 
an answer. So the matter ended ; but not 
until some unpleasant altercations had taken 
place. 

I am, &c. 



HH 



466 



LETTER XL1II. 

sb " • ■- - ; . — 



Finances — Population 



DEAR MADAM, 

You will readily conceive that a concern of so 
much magnitude as that of the Methodist con- 
nexion cannot be carried on without the aid of 
that great engine of power — the primum mobile. 
of almost every important undertaking — mo- 
ney. I will, therefore, in this letter, present 
you with such a statement of the Methodist 
finances as will, I flatter myself, give you every 
necessary information on the subject. 

The public and private collections among the 
Methodists are numerous, and are made on a 
variety of pretences. The following I believe 
to be a pretty correct list of them : 

Weekly class-money, atone penny each mem- 
her, will produce about ^'29,218 per annum, 
in Great Britain and Ireland. — Monthly collec- 
tion for the poor of the society; say at two- 
pence each member, will produce about *£ 14,609 



FINANCES. 467 

per anil. ; but this last collection is not now uni- 
versally levied. — Quarterly collection for tickets: 
the rule is to pay one shilling each member : I 
estimate the average at six-pence only; thereby 
making ample allowance for the printing of the 
tickets, and also for deficiencies arising from 
non-payments, &c. This will produce about 

*£l3,457 per annum. Love-feast money, 

at one penny each member, will produce about 
*£2,242 per annum. — This money, in some 
places, is partly expended in the purchase of 
bread : the overplus is given to the poor. — 
Sacrament-money : As the sacrament is not 
allowed to be administered at all the Methodist 
chapels, no estimate can be made of the sum 
collected on those occasions. There are, how- 
ever, but few large towns where the sacrament 
is not administered among the Methodists. — The 
yearly collection : the last year ( 1806) this col- 
lection amounted to £3,263 16s. 9cl.~ Kings- 
wood school collection, the same year, amounted 
to £3,699 Us. 3d.— The Methodist preachers' 
merciful fund, from which provision is made for 
superannuated preachers, and preachers' wi- 
dows, the last year produced £l,9<22 7s. 6d. — 
Money cleared by the book-room : This, I be- 
lieve, amounts to about ^2000 per annum. — 
Seat-money, or pew-rent : this source of finance, 
you will readily conceive, must be exceedingly 
prolific, It is impossible, however, I should make 

hh2 



468 



FINANCES. 



an exact estimate of the sums so collected : There 
are in all nine hundred and forty chapels, every 
one of which is generally well filled with hearers : 
should suppose that the money collected for 
pew-rent cannot be less, per annum, than 
,§£26,914. In addition to the above collections, 
are to be reckoned sundry extraordinary collec- 
tions, such as Missionary — Sunday-school — 
Collections for distressed chapels — and other 
contingent collections, producing very consi- 
derable sums annually. 

Upwards of £ 1948, says Mr. Hubbert, was 
collected last year in aid of the patriotic fund, 
independent of the large sums which many re- 
spectable individuals subscribed. In the year 
1798, when such large sums were collected 
for Government by voluntary subscription, in 
Hull alone, at the vestry of the Methodist cha- 
pel, no less a sum than £9^0 was subscribed at 
one time ! 

It appears from the above estimate, that the 
total amount of the several sums of money, an* 
nually collected from the members of the Me- 
thodist societies, in Great Britain and Ireland, 
is upwards of £97,%85. I have said nothing of 
the voluntary donations of many wealthy gen- 
tlemen, who are friendly to the Methodists, and 
who regularly contribute to the funds of the 
society : I leave the money so collected to 
make up for deficiencies, should there be any, 
in the several collections above stated. 



POPULATION. 4ft9 

It has been often said, that the Methodists 
are much drained of their money to support their 
preachers ; and if we only look at the foregoing 
list of collections, we shall be led to suppose it 
is indeed the case. I will now present you with 
an account of the number of their preachers, 
and of the people from whom the money is col- 
lected ; and you will then be able to judge how 
far a Methodist preacher is likely to become 
rich by his profession. 

There are at present about five hundred tra- 
velling preachers in the connexion, who have 
sixteen pounds, clear money, per annum. Their 
wives have the same ; with six pounds for a ser- 
vant, and, I believe, the same, per head, for every 
child ; with an allowance for their education, 
if they do not go to Kingswood school. The 
expenses of housekeeping, &c. are defrayed by 
the respective circuits. 

The state of the connexion, as to numbers, 
according to the minutes of the last conference, 
held at Leeds, August, 1806, is as follows: 

In Great Britain ..... 110,803 

In Ireland . ..... 23,773 

Gibraltar ...... 40 

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland 1418 

West India whites 1775 ") Q Q 

Coloured people, &c. 13165 3 

United States— whites 95628 -% 

Poloured people, &c. 24316) ' • 119,944 



Total s . 270,918 



470 POPULATION. 

" Of these," Mr. Hulbert observes, "up- 
wards of 109,000 are found in England and 
Wales, to which we may add 109,000 more, 
who are thorough Methodists in sentiment, 
equally as upright in their conduct, and as con- 
stant at their places of worship, but from some 
modest motive or other, have not yet ventured 
to have their names enrolled on the class papers. 

"To these we may further add, the younger 
branches of families, and those who are only 
generally influenced by their doctrines, fond of 
their preaching, and considerably reformed in 
life, making about 218,000 more, forming in 
the whole, nearly half a million of souls, or 
one twentieth part of the population of the 
kingdom and principality." 

If to all these we add the numbers of Metho- 
dists who are separated from the old connexion 
on some difference respecting the administra- 
tion of the sacraments, or the mode of church 
government, the Wesleyan Methodists will make 
a very large body indeed. By the minutes of 
the last conference (May, 1807) of ministers 
and delegates of what is called the new con- 
nexion, it appears their number was six thou- 
sand four hundred and twenty-eight I believe 
we may safely calculate on as many more, in 
various parts, who are separated in point of 
discipline, but who all agree in doctrines. By 
this it will appear, that the effective force, re- 



POPULATION". 471 

gular and volunteer,- of the Methodists, is about 
seven hundred thousand strong! Saying no- 
thing of their allies, of various descriptions, 
both in the church, and among the evangelical 
dissenters, who all belong, more or less, to the 
same body, or compose what has been called, 
I hope improperly, " the combined armies against 
the Church of England." 



I am, &p 9 



m 



LETTER XLIV, 



Divisions — Conclusion, 



DEAR MADAM, 

I shall conclude my series of Letter? with giv- 
ing you some information relative to one or two 
divisions which have taken place in the Wesley? 
an connexion of Methodists, since the death of 
its founder. 

There have been, from time to time, numerous 
partial separations from the Methodists, con- 
cerning the administration of the sacraments, 
service in church- hours, &c but the most for- 
midable divisions have been those relative to the 
nature and exercise of religious liberty, and to 
the forms of church government. Disputes on 
these subjects have produced the Methodist new 
Jtinerancy, and also the society of Revival 
Methodists. 



DIVISIONS. 473 

It has been observed, that there does not 
exist a denomination of Christians but what at 
one time or other has been guilty of persecu- 
tion ; the Quakers alone excepted : but since the 
recent transactions relative to Hannah Barnard, 
Mr. Rathbone, and others, have transpired, even 
this sect is shorn of its glory ; and on its cha- 
racter also must now be written the humiliating 
word — ichabod ! A more glaring instance of 
persecution is, perhaps, not to be found in the 
annals of modern sectarian bigotry,, than that 
relating to the trial and expulsion of the late Mr- 
Alexander Kilham from the Methodist con- 
nexion. If ever man suffered for righteousness' 
sake, he most assuredly did, and that too from 
his own brethren ; yea, even from many who had 
pledged themselves, in the most solemn manner, 
to stand, by and support him. It appears from 
copious extracts of more than twenty letters, 
addressed to Mr. Kilham, from those very per- 
sons who afterwards signed his expulsion, that 
he was made the dupe of cunning and designing 
men. Those extracts are to be found in Messrs. 
Thorn and GrundeFs Life of Kilham. They ex- 
hibit a farrago of abuse and satire against many 
of the most eminent men among the Methodists, 
which one might have supposed would have 
ended either in their voluntary resignation, or 
their excommunication from the society of Me- 
thodists, 



474 divisions. 

Even Mr. Myles, who insinuates that Mr. 
Kilham died by the particular judgment of Hea- 
ven, himself acknowledges, that he was a sin- 
cere, though a mistaken and troublesome man. 
The great sacrifices he made, for the cause in 
which he was embarked, give indubitable proof 
of his sincerity ; his various publications, com- 
pared with the weak and puerile answers of the 
old Methodists, afford demonstrative evidence 
that he was not very much mistaken on the sub- 
jects he took in hand ; while the effects which 
his inquiries have produced on the minds and 
conduct of his enemies, shew him to have been 
troublesome to those only, whose quiet it would 
have been criminal in him to have studied. 

The division which took place on Mr. Kil- 
ham's expulsion from the society of Methodists, 
is of a magnitude and importance sufficient to 
entitle it to particular notice in this work. 

The friends of the new Methodist connexion 
say, that the cause of the division was a few 
leading preachers having obtained such a power 
over the people and the junior preachers, as to 
keep them in the greatest subordination ; and 
that this is effected by forming their confer- 
ence, which they have attempted to support by 
the civil power, and by a legal claim over all 
the chapels in the kingdom. The exercise of 
this power they say is necessary to the support 
®f the itinerant plan • but it is at length fully 



DIVISIONS. 475 

discovered, to be only a pretence to introduce 
an episcopal government, by establishing a few 
with ceitain privileges, either given to them 
from their own body, or perhaps obtained by 
force or by fraud, as other freebooters have ob* 
tained their power, and establish themselves as 
ghostly rulers over their brethren, whom they 
mean to govern by a code of laws of the most 
singular nature, and which the preachers shew, 
by their silence on the subject, to be entirely 
indefensible. 

The people, say they, have always joined with 
the preachers in a determination to maintain 
itinerancy ; and had the preachers pursued those 
steps that reason and common prudence would 
have dictated unto them; had they plainly ad- 
hered to their profession of having no other view 
in establishing their conference, but to preserve 
itinerancy, no division would have taken 
place. 

But at the time of Mr. Wesley's death, a pe- 
riod to which the attention of the societies had 
been long directed, expecting then to have a li- 
beral form of government established, they 
found themselves quite neglected ; they saw 
themselves left out in all the new regulations 
that were made, and they were treated with the 
greatest contempt. 

The conference now began to shew plainly 
the end at which they had been aiming ; they 



476 DIVISIONS, 

endeavoured to establish themselves into a hier- 
archy, or priestly corporation, totally excluding 
the people from among them, and endeavoured 
to have all their acts, which were to be register- 
ed in a Statute Book, provided and kept for 
that purpose, supported and acknowledged by 
the government of this country. It now began 
to be fully discovered, that though to preserve 
the itinerant plan had been the original and 
ostensible reason for establishing the conference, 
there were other latent motives in the breasts of 
the leading preachers, that began to be deve- 
loped. This was no less than to form them- 
selves into the most arbitrary, and despotic sys- 
tem of government that human ingenuity could 
possibly invent. This first appeared in the 
forming district meetings, that were held by the 
preachers in many of the principal towns in the 
kingdom. These, like the Jewish sanctum sanc- 
torum, were only open to the high priests ; the 
local or stated preachers were entirely rejected. 
These meetings were in all respects so conducted 
as to cast the greatest insult on the people ; the 
rejection of whom, and the secrecy observed by 
the members of these meetings, were facts that 
shewed very plainly the intention of the preach- 
ers as to their future government.- During 

Mr. Wesley's life, he frequently admitted his se- 
lect friends into the conference ; but that which 
followed his decease was fully closed to every 

5. 



DIVISIONS. 47/ 

individual, but the travelling preachers. None 
of the people have, since that period, been per- 
mitted to enter those hallowed walls, except in- 
deed on some occasions as errand-boys; and 
their business being dispatched, they were ex- 
pected to retire with due obedience. So that no 
persons but the preachers have ever been pre- 
sent, either to advise on important business, to 
inspect accounts of large sums of money col- 
lected from them, or even to behold it with 
their eyes. For the preachers, amongst many- 
other pretensions equally strange, claim the pri- 
vilege of disposing of various contributions to a 
considerable amount, without giving any ac- 
count to the societies. A preacher at Notting- 
ham, having received contributions from the 
societies, refused to give any account of it to 
the people, saying he was accountable only to 
God and the conference for his conduct : had he 
denied giving account to the conference also, 
this circumstance would not have been men- 
tioned, as it would have been only the conduct 
of an imprudent individual, and no general con- 
clusion would arise from it. But this horfgst 
man spake at once the truth, and acted quite 
consistently with the laws of Methodism : he 
had not, it seems, been initiated into the art of 
managing the people ; he at least acted openly 
&nd fairly, as all men, but particularly Chris- 
tian ministers, ought to do. 



478 divisions. 

Moreover, the conference at some of their 
meetings, but particularly at those of their com- 
mittees, require from the members of them pro- 
mises of secrecy; a circumstance highly dis- 
graceful to them, and, as might naturally be ex- 
pected, draws on them the suspicions and cen- 
sures of all men acquainted with these singular 
transactions. 

Thus the societies soon began to perceive 
they had been completely out-witted by 
the preachers. When the conference made this 
declaration, " The trustees (of the various 
chapels) may have the fullest assurance that the 
conference loves them, and has not the shadow 
of a desire to oppress them ;" it was received by 
the people with that blushing indignation that a 
man feels when he discovers his prudence has 
been asleep till he has fallen into the snare, and 
becomes the dupe of others. 

The societies now found that the preachers 
were attempting to form the most detestable 
priestly oligarchy that could be invented. Their 
eyes began to open ; they saw the situation their 
credulity had brought them into, and that the 
preachers had completely juggled them out of 
every shadow of liberty. 

For six years the societies remonstrated 
with the conference, and requested at different 
times an alteration in its laws and form of go- 



divisions. 479 

vernment, which they thought highly oppres- 
sive; but all was to no purpose : and they were 
at length fully convinced that the conference 
would never make any of those alterations in fa- 
vour of the people, that they thought so reason- 
able and necessary : and the various refusals they 
had received irritated them, as might naturally 
be expected, and stirred them up to opposition. 
In August, 1797, the conference was held at 
Leeds, and a number of delegates from societies 
in various parts of the kingdom assembled,, to 
make another application to have their govern- 
ment placed on a liberal footing. They de- 
manded of the conference that delegates should 
be suffered to meet with them, and this request 
was positively refused. After this the delegates 
requested that they might be permitted to as- 
semble by themselves, and give their sanction 
or disapprobation to any important business that 
might be debated by the conference : this was 
not only refused, but the delegates were inform- 
ed also, that they should not have the privilege 
of meeting with the preachers in the district 
meetings. These various refusals of these most 
reasonable requests of the societies, brought 
matters to a conclusion : a division immediately 
took place ; many societies rejected the preach- 
ers sent to them by the conference, and a new 
conference and itinerancy was established on li- 
beral and scriptural principles. 



480 DIVISIONS. 

These people conclude with the following so- 
lemn declaration : — 

" Be it known to all the world, that we have 
not separated on account of any difference of 
opinion as to doctrines ; nor is it an affectation of 
singularity, love of change, nor want of regard 
to the preachers of the old connexion, many of 
whom we highly esteem, that determined us to 
proceed in supporting the rights and liberties of 
the people ; and therefore, every suggestion of 
that kind is entirely groundless. No : it was a 
conviction, arising from scripture evidence, and 
the constant practice of the primitive church, 
which, from the apostolic age to the time of 
Constantine, looked upon all the members of 
Christ as one, and always acknowledged their 
unquestionable right to the choice of their own 
officers, the formation of their own laws, and 
the distribution of their own property." 

Mr* Alexander Kiiham, the chief actor in this 
business, on the side of the people, was expelled 
the connexion, at the London conference, in the 
year 1796 ! 

You will observe, Madam, that the principal 
grounds of complaint among the people were 
that the preachers had too much power; and 
that they exercised that power in divers ways; 
particularly in refusing the ordinances to many 
of the societies. Numerous pamphlets were 
written for and against the administration of the 



DIVISIONS. 



48i 



Lord's supper and of Baptism by the hands of 
the preachers ; and surely they disclose, when 
put together, such a spirit of rancour and 
hatred as the religious world have seldom seen ! 
The parties abused each other without shame and 
without mercy. The Sacramentarians were ac- 
cused of an attempt to undermine the original 
foundation of Methodism, and to shake off their 
allegiance to the church. They were repre- 
sented as the whigs — the innovators— the level- 
lers of Methodism. The cry of The old Plan! 
was raised, sent forth, and reverberated, not in* 
deed " from Siam to California," but from the 
Land's End to the Tweed — from the Thames to 
the Severn ! while the votaries of liberty and 
the rights of conscience were heard to exclaim, 
" Who art thou, O great mountain ! before Ze- 
rubbabel thou shalt become a plain !" After the 
fight had been kept up, with great heat, for 
some time ; and the connexion began to be 
threatened with very alarming consequences, a 
" Plan of Pacification", was concluded on, by 
ballot, in which the leading preachers made 
some concessions, but still retained, in effect, all 
their original power ; demanding the " consent 
of conference/' before any important alteration 
could take place. 

Mr. Kilham saw through the dust that was 
attempted to be thrown into the eyes of the 
people ; and being of an undaunted and enter- 

1 1 



4S2 DIVISIONS. 

prising spirit, be did all in his power to repre- 
sent the matter in a clear and distinct point of 
view. In short, Madam, he publicly exposed, 
not only the errors of the Methodist govern- 
ment, and the domineering spirit of some of the 
preachers ; but he also unfolded many scenes of 
baseness and hypocrisy in the ruling preachers, 
He published a book, called The Progress of 
Liberty among the People called Methodists, 
in which he exposed the defects of the " Old 
Plan," and proposed a form of church govern- 
ment on a broad and liberal basis. This brought 
upon him denunciations of vengeance and re- 
venge from the offended party. They branded 
him as a heretic, a leveller, a jacobin, a rebel — 
they likened him to the devil — they consigned 
him to hell — they made some feeble efforts to 
raise the secular power against him and his ad- 
herents — and they finally expelled him the con- 
nexion 1 

He was tried at the London conference, on 
charges, the most childish and frivolous imagin- 
ary, picked and culled from his pamphlets with 
all possible diligence. They even refused to 
give him a list of the charges they meant to ex- 
hibit against him, until he was summoned to 
the bar of conference, to give extemporary an- 
swers to such questions as the very persons he 
had accused should think proper to put to 
him ! 



divisions. 433 

" The accusations/' says he, " that were cul- 
ledj with all possible diligence from my parh- 
phletSj were, * that I had complained of waiit of 
abilities for the ministry in some of the preach- 
ers, ' 

" That ' the preachers tyrannised over their 
brethren in the societies, and restrained them in 
those liberties and privileges, that as a Christian 
church they ought to expect.' 

"That ' many preachers had been taken out to 
travel against the consent of the societies, and 
that they were improper for the work, and that 
some of these were great weights to the socie- 
ties/ 

" That * the examination of the preachers' cha- 
racters, under the particular circumstances in 
which they stood when at the conferences, tak- 
ing into consideration that the preachers were 
the accusers of each other, at a remote distance 
from the place where they had laboured ; that it 
was a mock examination, and made sensible 
people laugh at us. 5 

" That I had affirmed, ( there was great waste 
and want of economy in managing the public 
money, and a criminal secrecy in their ac- 
counts/ and many other affairs of importance. 

'" These and many other charges of the same 
kind were brought against me; to all which I 
answered particularly, as related at large in the 
account I have published of my trial. During 

ii 2 



484 divisions. 

my trial and the debates it occasioned, an im- 
portant one took place, which was, ' Whether 
the conference was trying me or I was trying 
them ?' Notwithstanding the reason I had to be 
dejected, 1 could not help smiling at it, which 
was imputed to levity, and want of respect. — 
Some of the preachers said I was trying them ; 
but Dr. Coke and some others said they were 
trying me; but at length they came to the de- 
termination, c that unless I would retract what 
I had said ; or at least make certain concessions, 
that they would expel me;' but, as I refused 
these conditions, they proceeded to pronounce 
sentence on me, which the president did with 
all the gloom and gravity of an inquisitor. To 
make my expulsion secure, it was not only con- 
firmed by every preacher standing up and giv- 
ing his consent to the transaction, but everyone 
of them was required to sign a paper, signifying 
the justness and uprightness of the transaction. 
The paper was taken to the communion table, 
and laid on the place where the memorials of the 
body and blood of Christ are laid, when the so- 
lemn ordinance of the Lord's supper is admini- 
stered ; and Mr. Bradburn (I cannot mention 
this tragical story without weeping), who had 
formerly professed himself a friend to liberty 
and to the rights of the people — Mr. Bradburn, 
I say, stood by the rails of the communion table, 
like the governor of the inquisition, to see that 
5 



divisions. 485 

none omitted signing. Here we find one hundred 
and fifty preachers of the gospel of Christ con- 
firming the sentence of condemnation, in a way 
unheard of in the records of Methodism, if not 
in the records of ecclesiastical history, and stands 
as a sufficient proof that the leading men in that 
process, supposed that what I had written (to 
enlighten and save the people from the evils that 
they groan under) was worse than any crime 
that had ever been examined in any former con- 
ference. 

" The same day they lost no time in preparing 
a circular letter to be sent through the king- 
dom, giving an account of my expulsion, and 
among other things, affirming I had not sup- 
ported any of my charges that I had published 
against them. How far I have done this, all who 
take the trouble to read the trial at large will be 
capable of judging. But if I had not discharged 
myself with that adroitness, so as to preclude 
all reflections of that nature, it is not much to 
be wondered at, when my situation is fully con- 
sidered. I was without any friend to support 
me, singly opposed to one hundred and fifty per- 
sons, all my judges and accusers, and every one 
of them racking their inge uity to embarrass or 
entrap me in any thing I said ; and I may add, 
they were so disorderly, that they were fre- 
quently five or six speaking at one time. When 
I was called to the bar of the conference, I had 



486 divisions. 

not the least knowledge of the charges that were 
to be brought against me ; when these were read 
I was required to answer immediately, without 
a single advocate ; I was expected to give ex- 
temporary answers to the questions that were 
put to me, and was refused the liberty to exa- 
mine them alone, and prepare for my defence. 
Can it be supposed that in such a situation I 
could make the best of my cause, and defend 
myself to advantage ?" 

It has always been my practice, in my ac- 
counts of disputable points, to give, as far as 
possible, both sides of the question : it shall be 
the case in this instance also. I, therefore, here 
present you with the substance of what Mr. 
Myles, in his History of the Methodists, has said 
relative to this subject. 

" The Plan of Pacification had satisfied all the 
moderate people, who only desired scriptural and 
rational liberty. But there was a party who were 
not satisfied with this, but remained still conten- 
tious. A young man [thirty-four years of age !] 
named Alexander Kilham, (who had been ad- 
mitted upon trial as a preacher, in the year 1785) 
became the champion of this party, and occa- 
sioned great uneasiness by various pamphlets 
which he published. He had not only unhappily 
imbibed the levelling doctrines which were com- 
mon in that day, but had even strangely applied 
them to religion, and the order of the church of 



divisions. 487 

Christ. He insisted that the people were held 
in gross bondage., That they ought to rise up 
and deliver themselves, and assume that power 
which of right belonged to them. That the 
preachers were merely their servants, and ought 
to be obedient to their will : and every thing 
contrary to this wild unscriptural theory he 
termed popery and priestcraft ! He also traduced 
the character of the preachers in the vilest man- 
ner. The party whose cause he espoused sup- 
ported and abetted him by every means in their 
power, so that the societies in several places 
were rent in pieces in the dispute. When the 
conference assembled, he was unanimously ex- 
pelled the connexion. The minutes of the trial 
were published, and every preacher signed his 
name to a paper, testifying his approbation of 
the sentence. (This was the only instance of 
that kind.) He afterwards used all his influence 
from the pulpits of the dissenters to which he 
had access, and also from the press, to bring the 
preachers into disrepute, not only with the Me- 
thodists, but with the nation at large. But he 
failed of his object, and on December 20, 1798, 
while employed in his revolutionary schemes, 
he was called into eternity, at Nottingham, af- 
ter a few days illness, occasioned by a bone 
Sticking in his throat !" 

" The disaffected party being irritated by the 
expulsion of their partizan, Mr. Kilham ? and 



48S DIVISIONS. 

having no hope of being permitted to rule in 
the connexion (through the old pretence of vin- 
dicating the rights of the people), they laboured 
incessantly to bring about a division : and they 
determined that it should be as considerable as 
calumny, and the popular cry of liberty, could 
make it. Among other things, they asserted, in 
various publications, that the preachers were 
really divided in sentiment, and that a consider- 
able number were of Mr. Kilham's judgment, 
only they wanted his courage to declare it." 

A declaration of allegiance to the conference 
(held at Leeds, July 31, 1797), was drawn up, 
which was signed by all the preachers present, 
except Messrs. Thorn and Eversfield : a third, 
Mr. Cummin," signified his dissent by letter. — ■ 
Ci They," says Mr. Myles, " joined Alexander 
Kilham, and made a schism, under the name of 
The New Itinerancy. '' 

The division which the conduct of the preach- 
ers towards Mr. Kilham occasioned, consisted of 
about five thousand members. They are now 
increased to more than six thousand. Five 
hundred new members were added the last year. 
They have nineteen circuits ; thirty travelling or 
circuit preachers ; and, I suppose, about sixty 
local preachers. They have lately purchased 
the large and elegant meeting-house, called Gib- 
raltar chapel, in Church-street, leading to Beth- 
pal-green ; where there is an extensive public 



DIVISIONS. 48<) 

burial-ground. The Rev. W. Brown, is the sta- 
tioned minister there at present. 

I would gladly have enlarged on the circum- 
stances connected with this division ; but it is 
time I should hasten towards a conclusion; be- 
sides, that I have been unsuccessful in endeavour- 
ing to procure several documents necessary to 
form a complete account of the Methodist New 
Itinerancy. 

The Revival Methodists form a numerous body 
of the Wesleyan Christians. They are not, how- 
ever, all of them formally separated from the old 
connexion ; though they have, in many towns, 
separate places for religious worship. 

The Revivalists are those Methodists who are 
more particularly partial to noisy meetings. — ■ 
They claim, as a Christian privilege, a right to 
indulge their propensities to prayer and praise, 
at all times, and on all occasions. This liberty 
they will take during the time the minister is 
engaged in preaching ; and indeed at any other 
time they think themselves called upon by the 
motions of the Spirit of God. They are a simple, 
harmless, and well-meaning body; but enthusi- 
astical and ungovernable to an extraordinary 
degree. In Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Stock- 
port, Preston, and Macclesfield, they are very 
numerous. At the last- mentioned place, they 
have lately erected a neat chapel, having been 
long separated from their brethren of the old 



490 CONCLUSION. 

connexion. They have published their Rules, 
in a small pamphlet, entitled, " General Rules of 
a Society of Christian Revivalists, at Maccles- 
field, with a Preface, containing a Declaration 
of Doctrines." The mottoes to this pamphlet are 
as follow — 

" Let us walk by the same rule.'' — " We may truly pro, 
iiounce those churches happy, however plain and poor, in 
which 

c No simony nor sinecure is known, 
Where works the bee — no honey for the drone/ 
fC In the primitive church, profession of faith in Christ, ac- 
credited by a holy life, was accounted a sufficient title to mem- 
bership." Robinson's Claude. 

These mottoes will give you some idea of the 
spirit of the pamphlet to which they are pre- 
fixed. 

Imust now conclude my Portraitureof Method- 
ism. I hope, Madam, you have found, in my se- 
ries of epistles, all the information you wished to 
obtain, respecting the origin and history of the 
Wesleyan Methodists. I am not sensible of 
having omitted any point of sufficient import^ 
ance to merit your attention ; and I close my 
labours on the subject, with the tranquil con- 
sciousness of having used my best endeavours 
to gratify your curiosity ; and to add something 
to the general stock of useful information. 

I am x &c. 



FINIS, 



INDEX 






AgAP^2, or Love-feasts . . - 201—2?? 

Alarms, dreadful . _ * 

Anecdote, of Mr. Wesley and a young man. 29. Of a Calvinist and 
a Quaker, 118. Of King James I. 3 82. Of the author, 450. Con- 
cerning text-choosing . . 
Annual Review . . \ 7/ 
Antinomiani^m, testimony against , J*A 
Author, his happiness at a society-meeting . . " 5 

B. 

Bands, directions given to the, 143, 144. R u l es of the, 100—102 

How conducted . . t *-?<*• 

Barret, Miss Mary . . ' x 9| 

Bashtulness, some Methodists affected thereby 4 ^ 

Battle, description of one . m 2 

Bell, George, falls into enthusiasm and prophesies ° ^o^ 

Bibliomancy . . % o ™5 

Biggs, William, his account of an earthquake . ^ >44 ^ 

Bishop, why the American Methodists adopt the term [ ^o 

Bohler, Peter, visits England, 76. Prays with Mr. C Wesley A 
Bradburn, Mr. Samuel, 260. 264. Theatrical trick of, at conference 

311. Advice of, to the preachers . ' 

Bradford, Mr. Joseph ' , \ 3 *£ 
Bristol, a nursery for Methodism . 

Birth-sin . . ; Ia 7 

Brothers, the prophet . . . \ ^35 

Bunting, Mr. Jabez . . ' 35* 

Burns, the poet, mentioned . . a6 ° 

r v • v. 32. 97 

C. 

Calvinism, disputes concerning 

Calvinists, slander of some, concerning Mr. C. Wesley, no In xvW "* 

they agree and differ with Methodists . ' 

Causton, Miss Sophia, refuses her hand to Mr.' T Wesley' 67- and 444 

marries Mr. Williamson, ib. Is repelled the communion AQ 

Causton, Mr. commences a law- suit against Mr. Wesley ' S 

Chesterfield, Lord, politeness of ■? 

Church, discipline of the, exceedingly lax, 147. ' Why the Methodists 

doftdnts 7 7 ' Tolerants P iritof '4i3. Summary of her 

440 



49^ 



INDEX. 



Church-hours, in what cases preaching is then allowed . 267 

Circular letters .... 463.465 

Class-meetings, origin of, 177. Described . . 181— 189 

Class-leaders, business of, 179, 180. Their importance , 273 

Clarke, Mr. A. extract from a sermon of his, 253. His opinion con- 
cerning bibliomancy . . 
Classes, quarterly visitation of the 
Clements, William, courage and zeal of 
Clergy, testimony in favour of the, 376. Abused by Methodists and 

Calvinists, 377. Censured, and why 
Congregation, a mixed one 

Conference, Methodist, 306. Outline of the first, 163, 164. Business 
of, 307. What, 308. Address of, 315. Crowther's description of 
one ..... 

Confession, auricular, practised by the Methodists, 1 94. Defended by 

Verax, 197. Defended by Mr. Wesley . . 198 

Connexion, Methodist, state of, at Mr. Wesley's death . 418 

Controversies, .... 459 

Conventicle-act, .... 41a — 415 

Conversion, the author's . . . 450 



45^ 

32a 

378 
339 



309 



Coke, Dr. his letter on ordination, 402. 
of railing 



His ambition, 406. Guilty 



404 



D. 

Dialogue, between Mr. Wesley and the Bp. of Bristol 

Diffidence of some men 

District-meetings 

Disturbances at watch-nights 

Divisions 

Doctrines, Methodist 

Dream, a remarkable one 

Dry bones, a shaking amongst 

E. 



11 — 114 

278 
305 
319 
47^ 
-447 
276 
104. 168 



427" 



Earthquakes 

Emerson, Mr. 

Encyclopedia Perthensis, extract from 

Entwisle, Mr. 

Escapes, miraculous ones 

Evans, Rev. J. alluded to 

Evans, Dr. his controversy with Mr. Wesley 

Exaggeration, the Methodist preachers addicted to 

Experience • • 

F. 



35*> 

349 

448 

266 

154—158 

7 

397>398 

241 

204 



Faith, what 

Father of Methodism, a poet 

Fellowes, Mr. mistake of, about love feasts 

Field-preaching • 

Fightings without and fears within 

Figure, a fine poetical one 

Finances 

Fletcher, Mr. 380. 391. Extracts from, on the tall oi 

387 — 391. Opposes the Calvinists 
Forgctfulness . ? s 



247 
Methodists, 



430 
2Q. 26, 27 
212 
126 
116 
208 
467 



464 
397 



INDEX. 493 

Page 

Foundery, preached at by Methodists ► . izz 

Free-will ..... 435 

French prophets . . . « 118 

G. 

Georgia, visited by Mr. Wesley, 51. Progress of Methodism there, 53. 

Decline of Methodism there . . . 64 

Good words and smiles . . . . 47 

Good works .... 430 

H. 

Haime, John, courage and zeal of . . . 32a 

Hampson, John, his character of Mr. Wesley recommended 423 

Hell-fire ..... 261 



Helper, business of one 
Homilies, extracts from them 
Hume, his profanity 
Hunting, species of religious 



Huntingdon, Countess of, charmed with Maxfield's expounding 133 



Hymn-book, contents of the Methodists' 

Hyperbole 

Hypocrites, 57. Unbelievers may be 

I.&J. 

Jesting, pious 

Indians, disappointed by Mr. Wesley 

Introductory Letter 

Irish Methodists, shallowness of their religion 

Justification, the nature of 



298 

438— 4JO 
346 
270 



170 

337 

58 



260 
56.59 

338 
428. 435 



Kilham, Mr. Alexander, 54. 473. Expelled the society, 480. Charges 

against . . . , . . 483 

Kingswood, colliers, their ignorance and profanity, 128. Revival at 393 

L. 

Lackin°ton, the Chiswell-street bookseller . . 194 

Lanca trian Methodists . . . 399 

Law, Mr., Serious Call of, how useful to Mr. Wesley . 38 

Library, The Christian . . . 326 

Local-preachers, 273. 279. Call of, 274. Rules concerning, 279. 

Their u^e and importance, 281. 284. Compared to St. Paul, 285. 

dumber of, 286. Their meetings . . 304 

Love-feasts, of one held at Fetter-iane, 98. Described 201,202 

Love-feast hymn . . . . 31Q 

M. 

Marriage, when forbidden by Methodists . . 314 

Maxfield, Thomas, 132. 385 Preaches before Lady Huntingdon, 

133. Falls into enthusiasm . . . 133 

Methodism, rise and decline of at Oxford, 36 — 40. Visits America, 
43. Progress of, in Georgia, 53. Like the electric fluid, 54. Third 
period of, 84. Increases in England, 93. Progress of, in the field of 
battle, 321. Liberality of. 329. 409, Illiberally of 330, 41© 



494 INDEX. 

Page 
Methodist, 314' Origin ©f the term, 5. Certain doctors so called, 6. 
Propriety of the term, 8—10. Why the Wesleyans were so called, 
10. Sometimes improperly used, 11. Various kinds of, 236. Mo- 
nitor, extract from it, 283. Melody, specimens of hymns to promote' 
it, 170 — 176. How far they agree and differ with Calvinists, 444. 
A perfect one ; 446 

Ministry, method of trying candidates for it ; . 289 

Minutes of conference, 164. Extract from the last * 317 

Miraculous interpositions . . . 17, 18 

Moravians, Wesley's first acquaintance with them, 48. Testimony in 

their favour . . . . 58 

Morgan, Mr. death of, supposed to have heen caused by excessive 

fasting . . .-'"»"_. . 41 

Myles, Mr. 32. His account of the New Itinerancy . 486 

Mysticism, how far Mr. Wesley was tinctured with it „ 38 



N. 
National faith, why necessary 
Nelson, John 
New-birth 
Night-preaching 
Notincations, various unseasonable 



44 
3*4 
43i 
131 

348, 249 



Ordination, Methodistical, 394— 396. 400— 408. In America 398 — 399 
Old Plan, cry of . . * » 481 

P. 

Pandora's box . . ' . , » 387 

Parody ..... 336 

Pearce, Sarah, experience of . . . i 2 g 

Perfection, 199. Instantaneous, 384. How held by the Quakers, 

383. How held by Methodists . . 444 

Persecutions, 147. 331. Advantages of . . 134 

Poetry — Juvenal's lines on Themison, 6. From the Latin, ±1. One 
hundred and fourth psalm, 24. Exulting hymn, 32. Doubting 
hymn, 88. Invitation, 170. Goodness of God, 173. Thirsting, ib. 
Hell, 1 74. On the frailty of human life, 175. Praying for repent- 
ance, 185. A mourner convinced of sin, ib. Brought to the birth, 
186. Rejoicing, 187. Groaning for full redemption, ib. Love- 
feast hymn, 209. Wrestling Jacob, 221. Covenant hymns, 2.33. 
Society-meeting, 239. Funeral hymn, 364. The man of fashion, 
367. Lines by Mr. C.Wesley, 368. By Mrs. Ann Yearsley 457 

Population ..... 469 

Prayer-meetings, described, 165. Leaders, 269. Their qualifica- 
tions, 165. Ignorance of some leaders . . 16 J 
Preaching, 251. How conducted by Methodists, 252. House, the 
first ..... 299 

Preachers, their talents, 325. Their labours, 328. Their inconveni- 
ences, 333. Instability of some, 341. Odd gesticulations of some <x$% 
Priestley, Dr. . ... . . 421 

Public and select bands -. .'* » . 199 

ft 

Quakers, one who was afraid to sleep with a Calvinist, 119. Are per- 
fectionists ..... 3?3 



INDEX. 



495 



R. 



Ramsay, Allan 

Reasons for the author's undertaking this work 

Reflections on a particular Providence 

Religion, how recommended by Methodists 

Religious society, orders of one 

Reproof should not be given in a bad spirit 

Revivalists, account of 

Revivals 

Riots 

Roe, Miss, her raptures 

Rules, general 



Page 
97 

i 

*59 
265 

85 

35 
489 

3*3-393 

340 

99, ioo 

137—144 



Scandal .... 

Schism .... 

Scotland, success of Methodism there, 37a. Causes of the 

Methodism there 
Scripture-cards 
Shaw, Mr. 
Society- meetings 
Socinianism, hinders the progress of Methodism in Scotland 
Spirit of God 

Stewards .... 

Storm, account of a dreadful one 
Street and field singing 
Superintendants, their business 

T. 



failure of 



338 
145 

374 
45* 
116 
238 
37* 
43* 
300 

35* 
457 
292 



Texts, some singular ones, 257. How divided . 259 

Themison, a physician so called . 5 

Tickets, 245. Specimens of two . . . 246 

Travelling-preachers, one that thinks himself not the vilest of sinners, 
54. How a local-preacher may become one, 288. Rules concern- 
ing them, 289. Number of . . 299 
TruL-t-deed . 300 
Trustees ..... ib. 



U. 



Unbelievers, hypocrisy of 

Unitarians, how they ought to be treated 

University, the practice of religion not insisted 



there 



347 

373 
34 



Verax, defends the Methodists 

Visions, how accounted for by Mr. "Wesley 

Voltaire^ his hypocrLy 

W. 



196 

IK) 
347, 348 



Watch-nights origin of, 2:4. Defended 

We.-ley, Re . John, a proper Methodist, 8. 10. Manner in which he 
pursued his studies, 9. His escape from fire, 13. His father and the 
Vicar of Wakefield compared, 17. his zeal and perseverance, 37. 
42. Unsettled in his opinions, 39. Refuses to become his father 



217 



4?<S INDEX. 

Pagi 
successor at Epworth, 46. His opinion concerning the classics, 47. 
How employed on his voyage to America, 48. Thinks himself the 
chief of sinners, 54. Was constitutionally methodistical, 55, In- 
capable of teaching the Indians, 56. Discourses with Indians at Sa- 
vannah, 60. Falls in love with Miss Causton, 67. Is disappointed, 
ib. Is involved in a law-suit, 69. Returns to England, 71. His 
reflections on himself, 72. 419. Disputes about instantaneous con- 
version, 77. Is converted, 81. Doubts, 87, 88. Visits Bristol, 103. 
Makes a schism in the church of Fetter-lane, 121. His zeal and sin- 
cerity, 161. His prudence, ib. His critique on the large hymn- 
book, 363. His marriage, 369. Extract from a letter of his to 
Mrs. Wesley, 371. His last sickness, 421. His death, 422. His 
character, 423. Original letter of his, 425, His letter on women- 
preaching ..... 454 
Wesley, Mr. Charles, the first Methodist, 10. Loses the favour of 
General Oglethorpe, 66. Is converted, 80. Marries, 335. Preju- 
dices against him, 358. Desists from travelling, 360. His sickness 
and death, 361. His character, 362. Opposed his brother's ordina- 
tion work . . . .398. 405 
Wesley, Mrs. Susannah, her letter to Mr. Hoole, 13. Her care of her 

son John .... 19 

Wesley, Mr. Samuel, extract of a letter from him * 109 

Wesley, Mrs., John Wesley's wife , . . 370 

Wheatley, James, his lewdness . . . S5S 

Whitefield, Rev. George, visits Bristol, 101. Was formerly attached 
to the theatre, 344. Favoured by Lady Huntingdon, 345. His 
preaching attended by several eminent men . 345 

Whitehead, Dr. his account of the voyage of the Methodists to Ame- 
rica, 50. His remarks on Methodistical ordination . 407 
Women, jealousy among those at Georgia, 65. A perfect, 446. 

Preaching of . . . . 434 

Wood, Mr. Thomas, remarkable dream of his . 276 

Words, dying, no test of truth . . . 420 

Works done before justification . .. * 437 

Y. 

Yearly covenant, origin of, 225. 227. Defended, 226. Form of, 
2.28 — 233. How signed by some Methodists . 1Z5 

Z. 

&inzend6rf, Count . -i « IS 



ERRATA. 

Preface, page iv. line 13, after against, read ) 
Page 31, line 10, for forward, read formed. 
5*, 14, can, cannot. 

398, 14, case, era. 

419, 4, dele Inscriptions. 



€i Stower, Printer, Pattrno$ter-Rois. 




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